Kulasegaran clears the air on banning foreign cooks

PETALING JAYA: Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran said no definite decision has been made on employing only local cooks for restaurants.

Following an outcry from restaurant operators, consumer groups and netizens, the minister told The Malaysian Insight that it was only a proposal that requires further discussion with the relevant stakeholders.

On Friday, he said the Human Resource Ministry wants all restaurants in the country to only recruit locals as cooks from July 1.

He, however, said all operators would be given up to the end of the year to ensure only local cooks work in their restaurants.

He said the regulation 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 News Channel here on Friday.

Kulasegaran said the move would be able to reduce the dependence of local restaurants on foreign labour and ensure the quality of the local food.

He said the ministry would follow the footsteps of the Penang state government in banning foreigners as cooks in food shops, restaurants as well as stalls around the island.

Since 2014, the Penang state government prohibited foreigners to work as cooks at hawker stalls in an effort to protect national food heritage.

He also clarified that the ruling only applies to restaurants that serve local food and stressed that the ruling would not affect restaurants that serve specialty food.

Kulasegaran said coffee shops, Indian-Muslim restaurants and hawker stalls are categorised as local outlets, as such their workforce should consist of Malaysians only.

He said the objective of the proposal was to reduce dependency on foreign labour, in line with Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto.