Exco says Penang not a ‘police state’, won't check all hawkers

Last week, the state government announced that Penang street hawkers have one year to ensure they only employ locals as cooks or risk losing their hawker permits. — file picture
Last week, the state government announced that Penang street hawkers have one year to ensure they only employ locals as cooks or risk losing their hawker permits. — file picture

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GEORGE TOWN, Oct 27 — Penang is not becoming authoritarian and will not inspect every single hawker stall here, a state executive councillor explained following the implementation of a new ruling against foreign cooks at such outlets.

Local government and traffic management committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow clarified that the new ruling will likely only apply to hawkers under a list of local Penang hawker food, in response to controversy over the move.

“We are not turning into a police state so we won’t be going from one stall to another to check their kitchen to make sure they don’t have foreigners as cooks,” he said at a press conference this morning.

He said the state government hopes that all hawker licence holders will assist the state government in its objective with the new ruling.

“It is really up to the hawkers to cooperate as our intention in this is to maintain the authenticity of local Penang hawker fare,” he added.

He reminded the operators that if the image of Penang’s local hawker fare was tarnished, the whole state, including the hawkers, will suffer the consequences.

Last week, the state government announced that Penang street hawkers have one year to ensure they only employ locals as cooks or risk losing their hawker permits.

During this one-year transitional period, Chow said the local councils will also be fine-tuning the conditions of this ruling.

“We will also be coming up with a list of the local hawker food that comes under this ruling,” he said.

Hawkers selling food not in the list will not be subjected to the ruling.

This new ruling will be included into the hawkers’ licensing conditions starting next year and they have until 2016 to comply.

Those who do not comply and continue to employ foreign workers as cooks in their stalls will lose their licence.

Chow also said the council will open up a channel for the public and hawkers to submit their complaints on this issue.

The state government decided on implementing this after surveys conducted by the state showed 87.45 per cent respondents agreeing with the measure.

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