KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 00 Some 1,500 Indian-Muslim restaurants, popularly called "mamak" restaurants, are expected to close nationwide following the lack of foreign workers and also finding local workers, said the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma).
The Malaysian Reserve quoted Presma president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan saying that the lack of foreign workers has caused 3,000 restaurant operators out of 12,000 registered association members to be closed since the Covid-19 pandemic started more than two years ago.
"The lack of workers has a major impact on the survival of the food service and restaurant industry since the ban on the entry of foreign workers was enforced.
"Since the pandemic, in my chain of restaurants alone, more than 250 restaurant workers have returned to India and have not been able to re-enter the country while the mamak restaurant industry needs at least 30,000 more workers to fill vacancies across the country,” Jawahar Ali was quoted saying.
The acute manpower shortage which hit the food services and restaurant sector since the Covid-19 pandemic began had forced thousands of mamak restaurants nationwide to close their businesses since 2020.
Most of the foreign workers hired had returned home due to expired working permits, while some were stranded in their country of origin during the pandemic after returning there for a holiday. There have been difficulties in obtaining local workers to fill the vacancies.
Meanwhile, the report also reached out to the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) head activist Datuk Nadzim Johan who said that the government needs to act immediately to save the industry and thousands of affected workers.
Jawahar Ali said that his association, PPIM and the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Employers Association, as well as Malaysian Muslim Wholesalers and Retailers Association, urged the government to extend the period of hiring foreign workers to October 2022.
He requested the government to refine each proposal of non-governmental organisations (NGO) representing various affected industries before other policy amendments are introduced to help their members get foreign workers.
"The announcement by the government will have a big impact because the labour shortage in all sectors is still ongoing and has not been resolved where the situation of traders requires the services of foreign workers, especially in the endemic phase.
"Currently, only 30 per cent of the association members received foreign worker approval while 70 per cent of the applications are still in the system,” he said.
On August 5, the Human Resources Ministry announced that the application for hiring foreign workers has been temporarily halted from August 15 to 31 to allow a review of foreign worker application procedures to be made.
The ministry stated that this follows the amendment to the Employment Act 1955 (Amendment 2022) which will come into effect from September 1.