GEORGE TOWN - The future of Line Clear, one of Penang's most famous nasi kandar outlets, is not so clear now as a family dispute has arisen over its ownership.
A rift over the rotation of management, which is said to have been in practice since the 1980s, has forced the Penang Island Municipal Council to issue an ultimatum to the four partners, all of whom are cousins.
Abdul Hamid Seeni Pakeer, 64, who is currently running the iconic side-lane outlet in Penang Road here, does not have a licence to operate the business, which is in the name of his three cousins.
MPPP licensing director Azman Sirun said the family had two weeks to settle the dispute, failing which action would be taken against Abdul Hamid. "We will seize the stall and other items in the eatery," Azman said at a press conference yesterday.
Azman said the outlet's business licence was under T. Abdul Latiff, Sahubarali China Mohd Hanibah and Pathumah Iskandar.
Latiff, 53, Sahubarali China, 56, and Pathumah, 65, who were present at the conference, claimed that Abdul Hamid had breached an agreement over taking turns to operate the business.
"Abdul Hamid was supposed to run the business from 2008 to 2010 and Sahubarali after 2010, but the former refused to pass the business to any of us until now," Latiff said.
"He (Abdul Hamid) is trying to claim the business as his own."
Latiff said the business was started by his father, together with two other brothers, 65 years ago.
He added that when his father applied for a beverage licence in the 1970s, Abdul Hamid's father decided to venture into the cigar business.
Latiff, Sahubarali and Pathumah said they were ready to resolve the issue with Abdul Hamid amicably.
"We are ready to revert to our rotation policy. We will invite Abdul Hamid back as he is still a member of our family," said Latiff.
When met at Line Clear, Abdul Hamid refuted Latiff's claims over how the outlet came to be.
"It was my father who started the business back in 1949. It was only a very small business then. Later, he decided to bring his brothers from India to work for him," he said.
He claimed that he had applied for the business licence from the council in 2009 but was rejected.
"Instead, the licence was given to Latiff, Sahubarali and Pathumah. Why did the council reject my application and give it to them instead?
"I will not budge. If they continue to dispute this, I am ready to go to court."