Eateries cry foul as DBKL directs them to close, even for takeaways and deliveries

Soo Wern Jun
A DBKL notice ordering the closure of at an eatery is seen in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur March 19, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Owners of food stalls admitted that they are still confused over whether they can continue business due to inconsistent instructions received on the ground.

According to eatery owner Jamaluddin Kamal, 63, instructions to shut are unclear and causing confusion among owners.

“We were allowed to open [Wednesday], and [on Thursday] we were told by law enforcement officers that we need to shut our shop because we fall under the category of road side stalls.

“Now what are we going to do with the fresh ingredients which we have bought?” he said referring to poultry supplies he bought for the next few days.

He added that it was unfair for their shops to be lumped together with roadside stalls as they pay rental to the landowner where their shops are located.

Jamaluddin’s shop, located in the iconic Kampung Baru, has a zinc roof, a partial concrete wall and a cement floor, identical to hawker or food court lots.

“We are not like stalls by the road side where they are operating on foldable tables and canopies.

“We are not against the movement control order (MCO) but it is unfair to implement the order with such inconsistencies,” he added.

Eatery owner Jamaluddin Kamal speaks to Malay Mail during an interview in Kuala Lumpur, March 19, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

He also said that shops like his should not be ordered to shut while mamak shops were allowed to operate.

“We need to make a living. Why is it that they can continue to operate but we have to shut?” said Jamaluddin.

On average, Jamaluddin’s eatery business makes about RM1,000, but this also includes daily wages for his workers.

Several other similar shops in the vicinity like Jamaluddin’s were also ordered to shut due to their status as roadside stalls, another eatery owner said.

“Why make us suffer like this? If you implement a rule, make it fair. What makes mamak shops so special that they can continue operating but we can’t do so?” another eatery owner who requested anonymity said.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan announced on March 17 that food trucks, wet and night markets, roadside stalls are among businesses here that must stop operating in Kuala Lumpur throughout the MCO period.

Similarly, a Federal Territories Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list also stated similar regulations.

The FAQ, however, permits operation of food trucks just in Putrajaya, but for takeaways and deliveries only.

Upon further checks by Malay Mail, a coffee shop owner also experienced similar confusion as to whether she was allowed to continue business.

“There are certain rules we were supposed to follow, but they were not relayed to us.

“Apparently we were supposed to stack our chairs and tables, but there was no specific instructions given,” said the coffee shop owner in Setapak who requested anonymity.

According to the coffee shop owner, due to this, several passers-by had taken photos of her supposed non-compliance and posted them on social media, accusing her of not following rules stated under the MCO.

Roadside stalls can still seen in operation in pockets of the Setapak housing area. There is also a similar scene in Kampung Baru. Both locations are food haunts for city dwellers.

As for a burger stall in Wangsa Maju, it was not ordered to shut down; instead, a worker at the stall said law enforcement officers had only reminded them to abide by the permitted operation hours.

“We were told that as long as you don’t have ready-cooked meals laid out you can stay open.

“We only prepare food when we get an order. The police came by yesterday but only reminded us to not open beyond 10pm,” said the worker who requested to be unnamed.

The burger stall’s usual operation hours are from 6pm to 12 midnight or 1am. Throughout the MCO, they will be required to follow the allowed operation hours and shut by 10pm.

According to the worker, the burger stall only earned RM600 on the first day of the MCO, compared to usual RM3,000 it would make on an average day.

On Wednesday, the country experienced its first day under the MCO, with many eateries reporting a sharp decline in sales within the first few hours of operation.

Eatery owners also said that they have been left in a lurch as to whether they should continue their operations in a limited capacity to cut their losses and close for the rest of the two-week period.

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