Minister pledges probe after alleged ban on foreigners entering London’s Malaysia Hall canteen

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told Malay Mail that he was in the dark over the new policy, and has promised a swift investigation into the matter. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told Malay Mail that he was in the dark over the new policy, and has promised a swift investigation into the matter. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

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BANGKOK, Oct 26 — Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has expressed shock yesterday that non-Malaysians are now allegedly no longer welcome to dine at the Malaysia Hall’s canteen in London.

The foreign minister told Malay Mail that he was in the dark over the new policy, and has promised a swift investigation into the matter.

“I have to check whether there is such a policy or not.

“I’ll find out. No, I have not heard anything about this,” Saifuddin said when met here, where he was accompanying Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on an official two-day visit to Thailand.

“Normally we are quite open. I better find out as soon as possible,” he added.

The canteen of the Hall, a hostel and community centre for Malaysians there operated by the High Commission, was previously open to non-Malaysians — on the condition that one is accompanied by a Malaysian.

On Wednesday, a London-based Malaysian pastor named David Yeow had posted a photo of the chained up entrance to the canteen located on the lower ground floor of the Hall.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I believe food to be one of the best “ambassadors” for Malaysia, our culture, our hospitality and tourism. So i was very very sad to see the entrance to London’s Malaysian Hall Canteen chained up and a sign posted pointing patrons to use the Embassy’s main entrance. Upon entry we were told to produce ID to prove that we are Malaysians and told of their new policy which started on Monday. “Malaysian Hall Canteen will only be serving Malaysians from now on. Because this is a diplomatic building with security risks involved. AND ... because the food is subsidised by the Malaysian government, it is only fair that only Malaysians get to enjoy it”. The receptionist who checked our ID quipped. The canteen operators however objected to this decision but have no say in it. When asked one of them said “They didn’t check with us. We were shocked on Monday to see our entrance locked and now our business is affected, people think we are closed. And it is so sad that our food cannot be enjoyed by the locals and internationals who visit here.” As I am writing this 2 french nationals were turned away by the receptionist. “Malaysian Hall is for Malaysians only” they were told. I personally don’t think this is right. Much appreciated if people can help this post reach the relevant folks who can weigh in properly. #Malaysianfood4all

A post shared by David Yeow (@daveyeow) on

 

Yeow said patrons were now told instead to go in using the main Malaysia Hall entrance, where they would then be required to produce their MyKad to prove their Malaysian citizenship.

The policy, he said, was started just this Monday.

Yeow related that the receptionist cited security risks with a diplomatic building, while claiming that “it is only fair” that only Malaysians can enjoy the food subsidised by Putrajaya.

He also wrote that the canteen operators did not agree with the decision, and were sad that the locals and other foreigners in London could no longer enjoy Malaysian food.

According to Yeow, two French nationals were turned away when he was there, and were allegedly told: “Malaysia Hall is for Malaysians only.”

“I believe food to be one of the best ‘ambassadors’ for Malaysia, our culture, our hospitality and tourism...I personally don’t think this is right,” Yeow wrote.

Malay Mail is seeking clarification with Malaysia Hall and the High Commission of Malaysia in London over the alleged new policy.

Located at the Queensborough Terrace, the canteen provides cheap Malaysian food, and is usually frequented by homesick students, those who have migrated there, tourists, and even food lovers curious to try Malaysian dishes.

It was recently closed for renovations, before reopening its doors on April this year to much fanfare from Malaysians there.

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