GEORGE TOWN, Oct 28 – Penang Gerakan is disgusted with the state government for what it described as a botched-up plan to ban foreign cooks at hawker stalls without proper planning. Penang Gerakan secretary Oh Tong Keong described the plan as a “badly-hatched policy” that did not offer concrete solutions for the policy’s “grey areas”.

In a media statement, Oh wondered if the state government had studied the impact and subsequent repercussions before announcing the policy. “They are putting the cart before the horse and don’t even bother to offer ways and procedures to ensure the ban is workable and practical.” He added that it was akin to implementing a “let’s-keep-our-fingers-crossed-and-see-what- happens-and-hope-for-the-best policy”.

Oh was commenting on an assertion by state executive councilor Chow Kon Yeow that the Penang Island Municipal (MPPP) would take a year, after announcing the ban, to study and fine-tune the ban on foreign cooks. He doubted if the state government had held any dialogue with the relevant bodies and stakeholders to fully understand their concerns before deciding to implement this policy.

Oh also questioned the validity of the so-called public survey for the ban of foreign cooks for Penang street food. “I wonder whether it was done properly.” The so-called public survey, with two simple and unbalanced questions, he argued, would not produce a balanced public opinion. Oh recalled an incident during a temple dinner when Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng acknowledged people clapping their hands as “a sign that they support the state’s tunnel project”.

“Such an act is foolish, childish and irresponsible. We cannot simply gauge the clapping of hands by the people present at a dinner as supporting a project without they knowing the full details of the said project.” Oh recalled that when the previous Barisan Nasional state government, under the leadership of Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, applied for George Town to be listed as a World Heritage Site, the factors included the unique Penang street food.

The BN leaders, he said, had thought of ways to promote and protect the unique Penang street food. On Oct 24, Lim announced that hawkers would be given a one-year grace period, starting from Jan 1, 2015, to enable them to adjust to the new ruling, which would come into effect on Jan 1, 2016.

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