PETALING JAYA: The human resources ministry wants all restaurants in the country to recruit only locals as cooks beginning July 1.
Minister M Kulasegaran, however, said all operators would be given until the end of the year to ensure that only local cooks work in their restaurants.
He said the regulations would only permit locals as cooks in all restaurants effective Jan 1, 2019.
“So we want locals to be employed as cooks. There will be no compromise… we are giving you notice to do it by Dec 31. If you don’t do it, we can’t help it,” he told Bernama here yesterday.
Earlier, Kulasegaran had held a meeting with the Indian Restaurant Operators Association (Prisma) in Petaling Jaya.
He said the ministry would be holding more meetings with Prisma as well as the Indian Muslim Restaurant Operators Association (Presma) on the implementation of local cooks in restaurants.
Kulasegaran said the move was to reduce the dependence of local restaurants on foreign labour and ensure the quality of local food.
He said the ministry would follow the footsteps of the Penang government in banning foreigners as cooks in food shops, restaurants as well as stalls around the island.
Since 2014, the Penang state government has prohibited foreigners from working as cooks at hawker stalls in efforts to protect the national food heritage.
Prisma president P Muthusamy said the decision was shocking and would have major implications for operators.
“In the past few years, we have been facing problems of manpower. In fact, more than 500 restaurants closed during the period due to the shortage of workers,” he said.
Muthusamy said he hoped the ministry would hold further discussions with food shop operators nationwide before implementing the decision.
Presma president Ayub Khan said the problem of workers in restaurants was getting more serious as no locals wanted the jobs.
“We advertised, offering a salary of up to RM2,500, but no one came. It is not easy to find local workers for restaurants,” he said.