Kuala Lumpur: Faced with staff crunch in Indian restaurants in Malaysia, the government is "prepared" to ease curb on foreign labour, especially those from India, to meet human resource needs of these eating outlets.
Most of these restaurants, known as `mamak` restaurants, are operated by Indian Muslims and employ Indian waiters and chefs. They offer a variety of Indian and Malay food with some of them serving round-the-clock.
However, a move to curb the number of foreign workers last year hit the hotel industry as local workers do not want to work for long hours in these eateries.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has said he was informed that not many locals were interested in working at these restaurants, thus causing a shortage of workers.
"The locals cannot cope with the 12-hour shift and, because of that, operators say they do not have enough workers to ensure their business runs smoothly," he said when opening the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) 34th annual delegates conference at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre yesterday.
"To overcome this, the government is prepared to increase the numbers and I believe this can be resolved in the near future," he said.
Kimma is an associate member of the ruling party Umno.
Yassin said Kimma members had every right to government aid including those for education and business.
"I would suggest Kimma to present to the government a comprehensive plan on how to help the Indian Muslim community progress in business and education fields. This will enable us to take effective actions to help them," he said.
Kimma president Ibrahim Kader said there was an acute shortage of workers from India to work at about 12,000 mamak restaurants throughout the country.
The present quota of 25,000 was insufficient to meet requirement of the restaurants that are open round-the-clock, Kader said.