To it's credit, Star Metro has been highlighting unhygienic practices at several eateries in Petaling Jaya, following the unhygienic dish washing practices buy workers of Raj's Banana Leaf Restaurant in the Bangsar suburb of Kuala Lumpur, its closure ordered by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the subsequent indefinite revocation of the operating license of Raj's Bangsar premises. It is however surprising that the DBKL had earlier awarded the Raj's outlet in Bangsar an A rating when Kuala Lumpur and the City Hall were under the rule of the former Barisan Nasional government.
I wrote about Raj's Bangsar in my IT Scheiss blog, which provides further details about the incident shortly after news about it went viral.
Following the DBKL's actions against Raj's Bangsar for violation of hygienic standards, the Petaling Jaya City Council inspected and closed three restaurants - i.e. Raju's Restaurant, Sri Paandi and a Chinese coffee shop for unhygienic conditions and practices. These three are all housed in the single-storey shoplots on Jalan Chantek, Section 5, Petaling Jaya, pending rectification of the issues and practices.
These three restaurants have since been cleared to re-open by the MBPJ.
Raju's Restaurant is an "institution" of sorts in Petaling Jaya, with it being the first banana leaf restaurant in Petaling Jaya since way back in the 1960s, when Petaling Jaya was a young satellite township and a "dormitory town" to Kuala Lumpur, in which most people resided and commuted to Kuala Lumpur for work and business.
For those who are unfamiliar, Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, used to be part of Selangor state, along with Petaling Jaya and other townships and villages in Selangor but on 1 February 1972, Kuala Lumpur was declared a city and a Federal Territory, separate from and independent of Selangor, something like Washington DC (District of Columbia), the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which includes Canberra, Australia's capital and some other cities and territories s around the world. In practical terms however, the municipalities of Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang and Port Klang all one continuous urban sprawl, commonly referred to as the Klang Valley and travelling between them is a routine matter, though each are governed by their own respective local authorities (municipal governments).
Star Metro journalists have been on their rounds inspecting eateries in Petaling Jaya, including in SS2 and Section 14, where I live. Once again for those unfamiliar, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya and Shah Alam all new townships, are divided into sections and in Petaling Jaya, the older areas are called Section, whilst the newer sections have the abbreviation "SS" (Sungai Way - Subang) before their number.
The scenes of workers preparing food or washing dishes on the floor or ground behind these restaurants has been a familiar sight for a long time now and the MBPJ has so far mostly turned a blind eye these practices until now and unlike Kuala Lumpur, which only came under Pakatan Harpan rule after the 9 May 2018 genetal elections, however Selangor state, including Petaling Jaya has been under the rule of a Pakatan state government for over 10 years already and these unhygienic practices have been allowed to continue during those past 10 years, so how different really is Pakatan compared to Barisan rule, apart from Pakatan's claims of competent, accountable and transparent (CAT) rule compared to Barisan Nasional's rule?
What is needed here is for the local authorities to specify requirements for proper dish washing and food preparation facilities, and even demand proper training of staff by managements or to provide training of the staff in the proper practices in food preparation, storage and dish washing.
The main problem however is that the cheapskate managements of these popular eateries, who tend to cut corners to save costs and who try to maximise as much as possible on available space, since observing proper practices is more costly and makes them less competitive and could drive their customers to less hygienic eateries which charge less. Many of the customers of these restaurants have low expectations, which has led me to conclude that they will gladly eat curried or sweet and sour fried excreta as long as it tastes nice and is cheap and since these customers do not demand higher standards, there is little to compel the managements to strictly abide by hygienic best practices or even to bother to properly train their staff, many of whom are foreign workers from countries with lower standards of hygiene.
Since the customers have such low expectations, the managements will continue to cut corners and this will remain a never ending problem, which blows up in the media once in a while, with local authorities running around doing their job for a while, after which business reverts to as usual.
A very noticeable problem I have noticed in Section 14 and in other sections around eateries, is the presence of huge rats, scurrying in and out of drains at night and besides these eateries, there sometimes also is a wet market in the part of the section where these eateries are, so there is plenty of food for these rats to feed on and multiply.
Once in a while, one of the local authorities' enforcers, sometimes led by the respective state assemblyman, state assemblywoman or city councillor, go on a high-profile rat extermination spree with the media in tow but in the longer term, the rat infestation persists unabated.
I'm pretty sure that such problems will still be around 10 years from now, just as they were 10, 20 or 30 years previously and Malaysian will still be willing to eat curried excreta, sweet and sour excreta or excreta in oyster sauce as long as it tastes nice and quite happily eat from dishes washed in toilet bowls.
Those Libertarians in the US who are forever opposed to any government regulation and control, and who believe that everything should be left to free market forces to regulate, will love Malaysia as a libertarian paradise, where anything goes.
Star Metro's latest report follows below.
Still handling food in the back lanes - Metro News
by elan perumal, jade chan, kathleen michael, and thanesh jeyamaran
DESPITE Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) efforts to curb unhygienic food practices, several eateries in Petaling Jaya continue to flout council regulations, with workers ignoring basic hygiene practices.
During a check by StarMetro, we saw one worker pounding meat in the back lane between two eateries in SS2, while several others were washing dishes and utensils on the ground nearby. Garbage bins with rubbish spilling over could be seen in the background.
StarMetro also observed similar practices of workers washing dishes by the roadside or on the floor at several local coffeeshops in Section 14 and Taman Megah.
The roads and floors were littered with rubbish and food remnants. Some were stained with moss, which clearly indicated that the surface had been wet and mouldy for some time.
Over the past week, MBPJ shut down five dirty eateries during a crackdown in Section 5 and Ara Damansara.
These restaurants were also slapped with fines for having dirty premises, unhygienic practices and flouting council regulations.
Among the offences they were found guilty of were throwing grease and dirty water into the drains. Rat droppings and cockroaches were also found in some of their cupboards and refrigerators.
Shah Alam City Council (MBSA)and Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) told StarMetro they inspected restaurants in areas under their jurisdiction based on complaints and a grading system.
In Shah Alam, the city council introduced the Food Premises Cleanliness Audit System in 2015 that requires restaurant owners to apply and pay RM100 to have their restaurants inspected and graded.
No washing or food preparation is allowed in the back lanes of restaurants but eateries flout this rule.
Restaurants that are not graded are given compounds upon routine inspection if they are found to break rules, or when complaints are made.
With the system, restaurants with Grade A are inspected and re-graded every six months, while those graded B or C every three months.
The system also makes inspections more vigorous as spot checks are done more frequently.
MBSA Corporate Communications head Shahrin Ahmad said action would be taken against restaurant owners who failed to apply for re-examination of their premises.
He said eateries that did not adhere to guidelines would face termination of licence.
The guideline states that restaurants must be free from bugs, rodents and pets; workers must receive medical checks and anti-typhoid immunisation; back lanes or public spaces must not be used to prepare food; and food waste must not be disposed into drains.
In Subang Jaya, MPSJ conducts routine and scheduled inspections to ensure that the Food Handling By-Law and Food Establishment Licensing By-Laws 2007 are met.
MPSJ Corporate and Strategic Management deputy director Azfarizal Abdul Rashid said premises that were given Grade A would be inspected at least once a year.
He said those that scored below 65%, however, would be inspected more regularly.
Cleanliness of restaurants are thoroughly checked during inspections by the council from the condition of floors to ceiling, food handling and food storage.
Eateries are assessed based on food handling, overall cleanliness of the premises, sanitation facilities such as oil trap, sink and toilet, and maintenance of premises from its floor and ceiling condition to ventilation and lighting.
“The typhoid immunisation for food handlers is a mandatory condition to getting licensed.
“If a restaurant has no proof of typhoid shots for everyone of its workers, we will issue a warning and compound notice.
“Restaurants will be shut down if the premises is filthy and is graded below 65%,” he added.
From January to April this year, MPSJ has issued 281 compounds and 701 cleaning notices.
StarMetro would like to urge readers to alert us on dirty restaurants and we, on our part, will alert the authorities to act against these irresponsible operators.
Please do not forward old pictures and videos of dirty eateries taken several months ago or those involving restaurants in other countries. Send us only recent or fresh incidents of dirty eateries.
It would be better if there are shots of rats, cockroaches, flies or other pests visible in the eatery.
We plan to highlight eateries that are dirty and messy, and those who cut meat and vegetables at back lanes or beside drains.
In your email, please include your name, contact number, the restaurant’s name and its full address before sending it to email@example.com, and, yes, we keep your information confidential.
"StarMetro would like to urge readers to alert us on dirty restaurants and we, on our part, will alert the authorities to act against these irresponsible operators."
The above has been typical of Malaysia - i.e. newspaper journalists must do the jobs of local authority enforcers, who should be pro-actively doing their rounds of observations and inspections. This has been the case for as long as I can remember.