Backlash after Kelantan state government orders restaurants and food stalls closed for Ramadan evening hours

via Padmanaba01/Flickr
via Padmanaba01/Flickr

Restaurant and food stall operators in the northeastern state of Kelantan have met a new Ramadan directive shuttering their businesses between 8:30pm and 10pm every night during Ramadan with tepid enthusiasm, and have asked for a review in policy.

National news agency Bernama went to the state capital Kota Baru last night to speak with business owners, who asked to remain anonymous as they expressed displeasure with the initiative that was put into immediate effect two days ago.

One woman pointed out that while she understands that the Kelantan government wants to ensure that its residents attend Tarawih (extra evening prayers during Ramadan), involving local business that general income and employment may not be the best strategy.

“Workers and restaurants owners have a bigger responsibility to provide family needs, and I think the instruction is too drastic,” she explained.

Many have asked why independent restaurants and stalls have been affected, and not supermarkets and fast food outlets.

Individuals who rely on Ramadan traffic to sell their food stuffs are increasingly worried over their livelihood, with one single mother saying that she would now have to find another source of income so as to provide enough for her family to celebrate the Hari Raya holiday.

Without the money coming in from the various colek (a typical northern snack dish of a gravy served with fruit, chicken, keropok or seafood) she sells during the fasting month, she will be unable to buy clothes and food for her family for the festivities.

Many were taken by surprise when notice of the initiative began to circulate, straight from the Kelantan State Secretary Office, stipulating the order was to begin immediately, and was being done to honor Ramadan, and attract Muslims to go perform Tarawih in mosques and prayer rooms.

At this point, we’d like to remind our faithful readers that the state of Kelantan is currently what we colloquially refer to as being pokai (broke), and had to borrow money from the federal government in order to pay their civil servants last year.

Run by the conservative Islamic PAS government for over two decades, they introduced Sharia law in 2016. Men and women must sit separately in public spaces, restaurant hygiene codes include whether employees are covered up enough, and a woman was once stopped from emceeing an event lest her voice be the source of sexual temptations.

They’re also the state with the lowest household income, and has one of the lowest life expectancy rates among men when compared to other regions.

Oh, and it’s also that place where a 43-year-old man married an 11-year-old girl.

Priorities, though!



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