MALAYSIA ASEAN APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE CALLS FOR A NATIONWIDE HALT TO ROADSIDE DINING IN MALAYSIA!
On May 25, 2003, a 19-year-old salesgirl died when a car driven by 21-year-old college student crashed into her and several friends while they were having supper by the roadside in front of a 24-hour restaurant in Section 14, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia!
The said restaurant had flouted the law by placing the tables and chairs on the road.
In August 2003, two policemen were killed in Johor Baru, when a car hit them while they were waiting for their supper on the five-foot-way in front of a restaurant.
I remember after the tragedy in Petaling Jaya, I met the then Transport Ministry, parliamentary secretary Donald Lim who in my presence quite rightly stated that all food outlets and restaurants, including ‘Mamak stalls’ will have to stop placing tables, chairs or stools outside their premises with immediate effect.
The decision, according to Lim, must take effect immediately before another tragic accident such as the one which killed 19-year-old took place.
He also was very sarcastic when he quite rightly pointed out that:
“A road is for cars and not for people to sit down and have their meals!’
I remember that post that tragedy notices to all restaurant operators to stop putting tables or chairs outside their premises went out!
Fast forward 2020, nothing has changed!
The tragedies did continue as
Malaysians often frequent the 24-hour informal eateries and roadside food stalls to satisfy their night cravings for food or snacks.
And due to the over growing number of customers and that greed and prospects of greater profit, many food traders and restaurant operators extend their service by placing extra tables on parking lots and sidewalks.
A comprehensive study of the above practice by the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor (CASSA) in 8 states, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah, Negeri Sembilan and Johor found that it was quite common to see tables and chairs being placed at sidewalks and parking areas.
It is obvious that the greed for profits by operators overrides safety concerns for patrons!
I remember addressing the same concern with former Federal Territory Minister Tengku Adnan bin Tengku Mansor and was overjoyed when he immediately ordered a blitz on such operators, prioritizing consumer safety.
Likewise, did former Melaka Chief Minister and Perak Menteri Besar, in view consumer safety!
I am truly grateful to all of them!
It is no rocket science that roadside dining is both hazardous and fatal and unless the mindsets of Malaysians change no legislation can be effective!
We know that under Section 46 (1) of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 and for example the Licensing of Hawkers (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) By-laws 2016, and similar laws in all Malaysian states clearly do not permit this very irresponsible act by operators and unless we launch a nationwide mobilization of action on operators the dangers lurks and consumer lives are at stake!