Don’t be surprised if you see your favourite mamak restaurant closing down for good.
According to the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Entrepreneurs Association (PRESMA), there is a massive labour shortage in Malaysia and it had since caused over 2,000 mamak restaurants to permanently close when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in 2020.
PRESMA president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said the labour shortage is critical for the sector and they are facing difficulties in getting locals to fill the vacancies.
He added that the ban on the entry of foreign workers, which was enforced following the pandemic, has heavily impacted the survival of the restaurant industry, reported Berita Harian.
“Of the 12,000 members registered with PRESMA, now more than 2,000 members have closed operations in the last two years due to several factors, mostly due to lack of manpower,” Jawahar said.
Jawahar also explained that despite the association has opened up opportunities to the local workforce, there is no response from Malaysians to work in mamak restaurants.
“We put up posters at members’ restaurants calling on locals to apply, but the response has been cold. The ones who come for the job are senior citizens who are short of money or foreigners who ran away from their employers in other sectors such as farm labour or immigrants.”
“We don’t discriminate against senior citizens who are still able to work even though we need the youth’s strength in this line of work. Young people prefer to work in the gig economy sectors… probably because of the flexible working hours,” he added.
Jawahar said that many foreign workers who previously used MyTravelPass to go home before the movement control order (MCO) could not re-enter due to the pandemic, thus affecting mamaks nationwide.
“Although there is no MCO, and the economic situation is improving, the worker shortage continues to affect restaurant operations. Some mamak restaurants have been forced to operate with fewer employees. They are focusing on how best to serve their customers. When it involves customers it gives a direct impact to us,” he said.
Jawahar also said that there is a problem with unskilled workers, where they used to have a few trained or skilled workers to handle the duties in every service department in a mamak restaurant. However, due to the shortage of workers, operations were disrupted.