Speaking to the Star on Saturday (June 23), he said that the ministry will be "reasonable" in getting food operators to hire local cooks.
The call for restaurants to hire local cooks was "just a suggestion" and a date was given as there needs to be a cut off period, Kulasegaran explained when contacted.
“We will engage with the various stakeholders before the final process,” he said.
On Friday (June 22), Kulasegaran said that all restaurants serving Malaysian food are required to recruit only locals as cooks from Jan 1, resulting in some brickbats hurled at him on social media.
Some food owners associations had also expressed shock over the announcement.
Kulasegaran also clarified that the local cooks requirement is only applicable to "ordinary local food" outlets and does not apply to foreign food restaurants, high-end restaurants and five-star hotels which require specialised cooks.
“We are being reasonable,” he said.
Kulasegaran added that Kuala Lumpur (KL) actually already has existing by-laws that hawkers must be Malaysian.
Under the Licensing of Hawkers (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) By-Laws 2016, all KL hawkers must be Malaysian and no foreign workers can be employed.
"We just want it to be properly regulated, and have the same laws applied to all states. We want to be consistent," said Kulasegaran.
Kulasegaran said that the policy was needed to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country.
From 2002 to 2017, the Home Ministry recorded a dramatic increase of foreign workers from 1.06 million to 1.8 million.
Of these, about 250,000 work in the service sector including in restaurants, an increase of 80,000 workers between 2010 and 2017.
"We want to reduce the dependency on foreign workers," he said.