KUALA Langat District Council’s move to renew the operation licences of two reflexology centres located close to a place of worship and violating guidelines has people raising questions.
Councillors and elected representatives have strongly criticised the decision, especially over the fact that one of the reflexology centres is located near a Chinese temple.
Banting assemblyman Lau Weng San said he was surprised that the council granted conditional renewal to the two establishments, located in Banting and Sungai Jarom, despite their failure to fulfil the state’s new guidelines.
It was also learnt that the two establishments’ licences were nullified in 2013 and 2014 respectively, and renewals subsequently denied for several years, as they expanded their services to also include body massages, which was a clear violation of the licence’s requirements.
They were still operating business as usual during the period while their appeals for licence renewal were pending.
It then becomes more perplexing for Lau and other councillors that the renewal was suddenly granted, especially after the state government issued a new set of guidelines for the operation of reflexology centres in 2014.
The new guidelines state that the location of a reflexology centre must not be near a school or religious building.
“Renewal approval for the reflexology centre in Sungai Jarom should be reconsidered, because it is located near the Ban Siew Keng Chinese Temple, one of the biggest temples in Sungai Jarom New Village,” Lau said.
“In fact, its application ought to be rejected outright as they are directly in front of the temple,” he added.
He said he sent emails on June 5 and Sept 13 requesting the council to reconsider its decision to renew the centres’ operation licences.
Investigating the cases further, Lau discovered that the two centres failed to adhere to a number of other conditions in the guidelines and urged the council to look into them.
He said the report submitted to the council’s Health and Business Control Committee did not contain latest photos of the centres’ interior that were supposed to have been taken during an inspection on Sept 4.
“The photos attached were taken during the earlier inspection conducted in March. Based on this reason alone, the paper ought to be deferred until such essential information is provided,” he added.
According to Lau, aside from this, the operator of the reflexology centre should provide a written consent from the premises’ owner stating that he or she approved of the purpose, and show proof that there was sufficient fire fighting equipment inside the premises.
Other conditions include staff and masseurs must have Immigration documents, undergo health tests and wear uniforms.
Also, there shall be a register to record names, IC numbers, addresses and other details of their staff, masseurs and customers.
“The paper prepared by MDKL contains no written evidence from the owner, applicants, Immigration Department, Health Department or Fire and Rescue Department,” he said.
Lau was given the permission to highlight the matter during a recent MDKL full board meeting, questioning again why was the renewal approved despite the establishments’ non-compliance with the guidelines.
“I stated that the council should act with care as this is a sensitive and contentious issue. I had asked for my comments in the meeting to be recorded,” he added.
Lau said the move would create a precedent that might create unnecessary confusion among other operators of reflexology centres under MDKL’s jurisdiction.
“Others will wonder if they are subject to the new guidelines or will be given some leeway, like these two,” he said.
Several councillors also voiced out their disagreement during the meeting.
Kampung Baru Sungai Jarom MPP Zone 9 councillor Ang Eu Liang, was one of those raising the issue at the full board meeting.
He echoed Lau’s sentiments, saying such a case could become a negative example for future applicants.
“I definitely feel that the application has to follow the regulations and guidelines set by the state government,” he added.
Ang said the renewal of the licence was approval during the full board meeting as a majority of the councillors approved it, but he was not one of them.
The temple, he added, has been there for over 50 years while the massage parlour in front has only been operating since 2012.
On the other hand, a long-time resident of Jenjarom, Andrew Yong said he never knew that a rule prohibiting reflexology centres to operate near places of worship existed, and he felt there was nothing wrong with the establish-ments located near each other.
Yong said as long as the businesses were legitimate without “hanky-panky” elements, then they should not pose a problem.
“I don’t think people are really bothered about the issue.
“They want a service to de-stress, they pay and the businesses provide them with the service.
It shouldn’t be a problem,” he added.
Most villagers, he added, would not mind either even if they were aware of this condition in the new guidelines.
MDKL could not be reached for comments at press time.