Non-Muslims musn’t be forced, says Chinese group on Maghrib closure

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PETALING JAYA: Non-Muslim traders in Kelantan should not be forced to close their businesses during the Maghrib prayer time, a Chinese community leader from the state said today.

Kelantan Peranakan Chinese Association (PPCK) president Lim Kham Hong was asked to comment on the state government’s policy requiring all traders to stop their activities during the Maghrib prayers.

“We have no problem closing our shop temporarily to make way for Maghrib prayers, but non-Muslim traders shouldn’t be forced into doing so,” Lim said, adding that the policy should be enforced only on Muslims traders.

“What’s important is that the policy doesn’t affect those from other religions, where they are forced to stop their activities instead of doing so willingly. That, we do not agree with.”

Lim added that it should also not be enforced to the point that non-Muslims traders would be fined for not abiding by the policy.

The state local government, housing and sports committee chairman Abdul Fattah Mahmood yesterday told FMT that the policy, currently enforced at the main night markets under municipal councils in the state, would ensure Muslim traders and customers perform their prayers.

He also said that non-Muslim traders could enjoy a short 10- to 15-minute break through the policy, which was first introduced by the Kota Bharu municipal council and was expanded last year to include the rest of the state.

PPCK committee member Lee Hok Cheng when contacted, gave a different point of view. He said personally, he agreed with the policy as it is a sign of respect to the Muslims, who make up Kelantan’s majority population.

“This is a norm in Kelantan. But I don’t know how the non-Muslims outside the state would respond to this,” he said.

Lee also claimed that there are certain quarters who are playing up the issue.

“Only a small quarter is trying to make this an issue that can affect the good relationship between the different races in Kelantan.”