GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia - Tourists gave the nod to the move to ban foreign workers as the main cooks for local hawker fare, claiming that Penang's authentic taste is the reason that brought them here in the first place.
Singaporean tourist Helen Quek, 63, said she travelled to Penang once every few months to sample dishes such as laksa, curry mee, hokkien mee and rojak.
"We travelled far to sample Penang's hawker delights. As such, we wholeheartedly agree that the dishes should be cooked by locals to retain the taste," she said.
"One of Penang's strongest attractions is its food. The people here are proud of it, and measures should be taken to ensure that it is not changed or lost," said Quek.
Filipina tourist Nelia Tham said: "We are here on an eating binge. And are looking forward to trying the trademark cendol, a must local fare."
Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Seri Choot Ewe Seng also welcomed the move, saying that employing foreign labour as cooks defeated the purpose as the famous Penang hawker food was a state heritage.
"It is especially important to hand down the cooking skills to the next generation to ensure that the skills are not lost."
However, KDU Penang's Head of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts Cindy Loh said foreigners could be trained to cook Penang street food as long as the training was comprehensive.