KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) is against a new health policy which seeks to limit operating hours of restaurants and eateries to 12am.
Kimma president Datuk Syed Ibrahim Kader described the policy as "nonsensical" to be imposed on mamak outlets, which usually caters to late night customers.
“Yes, the ministry is putting efforts to fight the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“But limiting mamak restaurants operating hours to midnight will not resolve the problem.
“People can still cook at home. Is the ministry going to implement another policy which bars every household from cooking after 12am, in order to prevent Malaysians from eating after midnight?
“To us, what the ministry can do is to educate the Malaysians to take care of their food intake and to eat healthily,” Syed Ibrahim said when contacted today.
Syed Ibrahim was responding to the New Straits Times exclusive today on 13-point policies to promote a healthier nation, which includes limiting restaurant operating hours to 12am.
Among other policies revealed by Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam include taxing sweetened beverages, exempting sports equipment from import duties and exempting gym operators from paying corporate tax.
The new set of policies also cover the ban on advertisements on food and drinks with high fat, salt and sugar content that could lure children into buying them.
He said running a 24-hour restaurant is not easy, but due to support from the masses, mamak outlets have evolved into a gathering place for many and have become a very much part of the Malaysian culture.
For example, Syed Ibrahim said for years mamak outlets have become places for football enthusiasts to watch matches together.
He said mamak outlets also have been catering to the needs of university and college students.
“These students, they hold their discussions and assignments there as most mamak outlets are equipped with wifi facility.
"If mamak outlets can only operate until midnight, where will the students go,” he said.
He said currently there are about 12,000 mamak and Indian Muslim outlets nationwide with a total annual revenue of about RM10 billion.
Syed Ibrahim said Kimma would move to officially protest against the policy.
"We are going to write a request to the ministry to ask them to re-consider before implementing the policy.
"We are even willing to participate in a discussion."
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had on Friday said the 13 policies on a healthy living environment were discussed by the Cabinet Committee for a Health-Promoting Environment for implementation next year and 2019.