Restaurants on the verge of closing their doors

Facing a manpower shortage, a restaurant owner said most of his staff was from outside Malaysia, many of who returned home or lost their permits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Imran Hilmy, Fatimah Zainal and Sharon Ling

Imran Hilmy, Fatimah Zainal and Sharon Ling

The Star


June 17, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – Popular banana leaf restaurants have been forced to shut temporarily after facing an acute shortage of workers over the past six months.

Datuk V. Harikrishnan, 54, said operations in two of his restaurants here, one in Kedah and another in Kuala Lumpur were forced to close because of a manpower shortage.

“Most of my staffers were from Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India, but during the pandemic many of them were allowed to return home or had their permit expired or cancelled,” he said.

Harikrishnan said he had applied to hire foreign workers from the same source countries through the immigration online system but none have been approved so far.

He said the cause of the delay in approval was unknown but stressed that if this pattern continued, he will not be able to operate anymore.

Harikrishnan said he has tried to engage Malaysians.

However, this has not been fruitful despite offers of higher salaries, allowances and accommodation.

Jeremy Lim, vice-president and media liaison officer of the Restaurant and Bistro Owners Association, said industries facing manpower crunch were already on their “ICU beds”.

The situation is quite dire, said Lim, adding that some members of the association have reduced their hours and menu items.

Lim said that in March, the Human Resources Ministry had said in a parliamentary reply that the government was working on a guideline on permission for refugees to work in Malaysia.

“I think hiring them would be a fantastic stopgap measure for the manpower issue but we haven’t heard any plans moving forward.

“If the government could facilitate in giving them a permit to work, these individuals can contribute to the nation,” he added.

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