KOTA BARU - In the wake of Terengganu's move for its malls to close for two hours on Fridays, the Kota Baru Municipal Council has now gone a step further.
It has directed all business premises - and not just those with Muslim workers - to observe a two-hour closure from 12.30pm till 2pm every Friday.
The order, dated Jan 14 and signed by council secretary Rosnazli Amin, warned of action against those who failed to comply and had been distributed to all businesses.
However, the directive had incurred the wrath of non-Muslim businessmen, who wanted to be exempted from this new ruling.
"All my workers are non-Muslims. If I were to close for two hours every week, I will lose business.
"All this while, I made the most profit on Friday when all the other shops are closed.
"I do not see any reason to close as I don't have any Muslim workers," said a businessman, who declined to be named.
He owns several restaurants here.
Another businessman said that non-Muslim business premises without any Muslim workers should be allowed to operate as usual.
"This latest circular is like the council trying to force the Islamic ideology down our throats.
"We should be left out of the ruling. It is unnecessary and inconvenient," said another businessman who declined to be named and runs a non-halal restaurant.
Kelantan MCA deputy chief Tan Ken Ten said it was totally unnecessary to impose such a ruling on non-halal business entities, pointing out that the time of prayers for Muslims coincided with lunch time for others.
"It would be awkward to turn their customers away. Previously, business entities - except for non-halal premises - are only obliged to close during Friday prayers.
"Now, it has become mandatory for all; otherwise, their licences and permits will not be renewed or worse, they have to pay fines," he said.
Tan said while it was not a problem for businesses to respect the Islamic observance of Friday prayers, the council must use its discretion as it would be inconvenient and unnecessary for non-halal entities.
State Local Council, Housing, Health and Ennvironment committee chairman Datuk Abdul Fattah Mahmood could not be reached for comments.