In a bind over lockdown red tape

Feeding the public: Restaurant owners were told they would have to get approval to open during the MCO period. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Indian-Muslim restaurant operators are up in arms against a ruling requiring them to apply for approval to keep their businesses open under the ongoing lockdown.

They complained that the application had to be done through the one-stop centre manned by the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti).

The owner of a major Indian-Muslim restaurant chain said local council officers had threatened to slap a heavy fine on him and for each of his workers if he kept his outlets open without obtaining approval.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said so far, only 300 of its 12,500-strong members across the country have received approval from the one-stop centre.

“Why can’t the government do away with so much bureaucratic practices? We all know that the food business is essential and can be

open for takeaways, so why put more misery unto us with these measures?

“Most of us are already in a critical stage with our businesses on the verge of collapse, ” he said yesterday.

On May 31, the National Security Council (NSC) decided that approval for companies under economic sectors allowed to operate during the national lockdown is to be obtained via CIMS 3.0, which is coordinated by Miti.

Under the two-week lockdown which started on June 1, companies were required to apply for new approval letters for their employees to travel to work.

Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar managing director Burhan Mohamed said he has been trying to apply for approval from the one-stop centre for his chain of restaurants.

“We finally managed to submit our application but we have yet to get any approval from the relevant authorities, ” he added.

Burhan said Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) officers visited his restaurant in Kota Damansara

yesterday and warned him that if he did not have any approval issued by today, he risked facing a hefty fine.

“I was also told each of my workers would be slapped with compounds. They said I should close my restaurant, ” he added.

However, according to Burhan, after checking on the issue, he was informed that he would only need to show the application letter, instead of the approval letter.

“The government has clearly said that restaurants can operate as long as it is just for takeaways.

“Why do we need to register under the one-stop centre? We have been deemed essential, ” he argued, urging the government to make things easier for the food business.

An MBPJ spokesman, when contacted, said the issue should be referred to the NSC.

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