PETALING JAYA: Customers often want to change their orders, need sugar added to their drinks, more ice or serviettes – those are the reasons the self-service concept will not work in Indian Muslim restaurants.
Restaurant owner Sheriff Abdul asked: “Do you expect them to line up each time they want something?”
Respect for customers was paramount in his business, he said, adding: “Here, we get Datuks sharing tables with office boys. We give them good service by attending to them the moment they call for us.”
He said he relied on foreign workers, especially those from India, because they were diligent and reliable.
Sheriff was commenting on a statement by Home Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid, who had urged restaurants owners to work towards the self-service concept to reduce the number of general workers from India.
He had said the Government planned to slow down recruitment of Indian workers because there were too many waiters taken in as general workers presently.
Azmi also said the ministry would give a year’s notice to all Indian Muslim restaurant owners and operators to send home workers from India, who were currently employed as waiters.
However, he said chefs could be recruited to cook Indian food but not Malaysian fare like nasi kandar, mamak mee or rojak.
Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Syed Jamarulkhan Kadir said they resorted to recruiting foreign employees because Malaysians did not want to work as waiters.
“It is very difficult to keep Malaysian workers even after we provide them with food, lodging, clothes and other benefits. We have tried them out and after two weeks, they disappear,” he said.
He said foreign restaurant help here constituted less than 10% of the 1.2 million foreign workers in the country.
Noting that restaurants in Malaysia provided food at cheap prices, Syed Jamarulkhan said: “We cannot maintain low prices if we have to pay Malaysians workers higher wages.”
Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association president R. Ramalingam Pillai said: “We agree with the Government there is a need to reduce foreign workers gradually but we appeal to the Government to allow us to maintain the present employees in our restaurants.
Malaysia Muslim Restaurant Operators Association vice-president Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said Indian workers were “badly needed” for the survival of Indian Muslim restaurant chains.
“Many businesses will be forced to close down if foreign workers were sent home,” he said in Penang.