JOHOR BARU: Indian Muslim restaurants in the state have recorded a 20% drop in business following the smoking ban in all eateries along with viral allegations that these restaurants used charms to draw in customers.
Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association (Perusim) secretary Hussein Ibrahim pointed out 200 out of its 338 members were involved in the restaurant business and they have been hit badly.
“The public’s perception, especially among our Muslim customers, towards mamak restaurants is getting worse,” he told reporters at a press conference held in a hotel here yesterday.
Purported images of restaurants where charms are used to get customers have gone viral.
But Hussein said none of their members used any sort of charms as it is against Islam.
He added that the association welcomed investigations against any restaurant owners found using charms.
“But we hope the authorities will name the restaurants instead of generalising them as mamak because it is affecting us all,” he said.
Hussein said the association wanted the government to allow designated smoking areas in restaurants.
Besides the drop in business following the ban on Jan 1, he said, many customers would leave without paying their food and drinks after claiming they wanted to smoke 3m away from the premises.
He also urged the government to lift the freeze on the hiring of foreign workers, which had been imposed since 2016.
Some 24-hour restaurants, said Hussein, did not have enough employees to operate around the clock.
“It is not that we do not want to hire locals but it is the locals that do not want to work for us because they feel it is not a glamorous job.
“We are offering them RM1,500, which is more than the minimum wage set by the government, but it is still not enough to entice them,” he said.
Hussein added that Perusim was willing to work closely with any government organisations to help clean the image of mamak restaurants here.