KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Operators Association (Presma) wants the government to extend the foreign workers’ recruitment period.

The association fears over 3,000 Mamak restaurants nationwide brought down their shutters owing to the lack of workers.

The plea from the association comes after the authorities announced the suspension of foreign workers intake between Aug 15 and 31.

Presma president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan urged the government to extend the foreign workers recruitment period from the Aug 14 closure date by two months until the end of October.

He said this in a joint press conference here today with the Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM), Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas) and Malaysian Muslim Wholesalers and Retailers Association (Mawar).

In voicing his concern, Jawahar Ali said the authorities needed to resolve the conundrum faced by the restaurant operators, retailers and wholesalers to recruit the needed foreign workers in the short period available.

“Hardly 30 per cent of the association members have received permission for foreign workers (recruitment), while the remaining 70 per cent of applications are still in the system.

“There are quite a few new members who wish to apply for foreign workers, though they lack the required paperwork and it takes a while to compile such documents,” he said here today.

Jawahar Ali said the associations feared that some estimated 1,500 restaurants were likely to be shut down immediately if the recruitment period was not extended.

PPIM lead activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said the issue should not be taken lightly as most restaurants lost workers since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“After over two years of not being reunited with their family members because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which struck worldwide, most foreign workers had returned to their home countries for a long break.

“We need to consider the practicalities of food sector operators who require workers for their operations,” he said.

Nadzim said the organisations urged Human Resources Minister Datuk M. Saravanan to extend the foreign workers recruitment period.

Present were Primas president J. Suresh and Mawar president Abdul Alim Sidique Zakariah.

Article by: New Straits Times