MCA: Night-market ruling in Kelantan an ‘erosion of non-Muslim rights’

PETALING JAYA: The ruling to compel night market traders, including non-Muslims, in Kelantan to cease business during maghrib prayers is inconvenient to traders and consumers, said MCA.

Kelantan MCA state liaison committee secretary Datuk Lua Choon Hann said the requirement did not take into account the long-term effects on the local economy, people’s livelihoods and the “erosion of non-Muslim rights”.

“The Kelantan government should introduce policies to revive the economy, and promote local delicacies and the skills of Kelantan’s cottage industry which foreign tourists are keen on, rather than be so obsessed with restricting and stifling business,” said Lua in a statement Tuesday.

Lua questioned how Kelantan would be able to attract tourists to its night markets if the businesses were shut down for about 10 minutes during maghrib prayers.

On Monday, Kelantan’s Local Government, Housing and Sports Committee chairman Abdul Fattah Mahmood said entrance to the night markets would be closed five minutes before prayers and reopened shortly after the maghrib prayers ended.

He said the ruling was imposed under the Kota Baru City Council by-laws 10 years ago and last year, the ruling was expended to the entire state in a move to standardise enforcement.

Abdul Fattah said those who failed to comply risked having their licence suspended.

“Closing pasar malams (night markets) causes a loss of income to petty traders. Pasar malams are popular attractions,” Lua said.

He added that it is also ridiculous to solely target petty traders, adding that if the state government wanted all businesses to stop operations temporarily, then it must do the same for its banking system.

“If the Kelantan government wants all business operations to come to a grinding halt, then it must instruct banks to programme their ATMs to come to a shutdown during maghrib prayers as well.

“Using the same logic, for large-scale corporations involved in business discussions in the evening to night, the Kelantan government should force them to switch off their electricity and cease all meetings,” Lua said.

Meanwhile, former Kota Baru lawmaker Zaid Ibrahim said that he would file a suit to challenge the ruling, saying in a tweet that the ruling is illegal.

"The ruling to disallow traders from opening their shops before 3pm during Ramadhan is also illegal. Kelantan leaders are irresponsible and many of their policies have no basis in law," said Zaid.

The former de facto law minister added that he would allow God to decide if he was "ignorant" and added that leaders should not make it difficult for the common folk to make a living.

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