AS EXPECTED, like a bad case of acid reflux after a heavy meal, many Malaysians have again closed not one but both eyes when it comes to tolerating dirty eateries.
The latest fiasco involving five food stalls in Lucky Garden, Bangsar, that were forced to close for two weeks for operating in unsanitary conditions, shows how one’s taste is stronger than sight.
Despite the two-week closure order, some stalls opened for business the next day after the operators claimed to have cleaned up the premises.
The enforcement by the Federal Territory Health Department came after some members of the public (mostly residents living nearby) complained that stall workers and patrons were seen openly urinating at adjacent drains and behind their homes, with the excuse that there were no public toilets nearby.
One option for them is to walk about 300m (a three-minute walk) to Bangsar Village across the road to use a proper toilet. But in the long run, maybe this is not the most practical solution.
The relevant authorities should consider setting up portable toilets in the area.
Filthy cooking areas and rubbish strewn about the hawker centre as well as open smoking at the food stalls were among other complaints the department received.
Oblivious to the stalls’ blatant flouting of the law, in this case the Food Act 1983, patrons do not mind eating at the filthy hawker centre at the expense of their health.
Why? Because the food is cheap, and so what if they have to put up with a possible episode or two of food poisoning?
Who do we blame here? The authorities for lack of enforcement or the food stall operators for their complete disregard for sanitation and hygiene?
Or, do we again just settle with the excuse that this is how it is in Malaysia and be done with it?
StarMetro reported that the stalls, which were previously located along Lorong Ara Kiri 1, were temporarily shifted to Lorong Ara Kiri 3 in 1998 in anticipation of a move to a permanent site.
That final relocation, however, never took place. The long-standing problem relating to the stalls, said Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, would be addressed soon.
More importantly, the ratepayers who live in the area are suffering by having to put up with dirty drains and surroundings because of these unclean food stalls.
These residents deserve to at least have their backyards or back lanes clean, especially the drains, which should not be turned into a toilet.
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