Monday, September 19, 2011

Robbing regulars of 24-hour eating convenience

REGULARS at mamak restaurants will be pleased to know that some of their favourite haunts will soon have armed security guards to protect the proprietors and customers from robbers.

If you have been watching the news or are active in social media, you will have seen the video of a robbery at a mamak restaurant on Youtube.

The incident is believed to have taken place at a mamak restaurant in Section 15, Shah Alam, during the early hours of the morning late last month.

The video showed parang-wielding men wearing crash helmets bursting into a sparsely occupied restaurant and relieving customers of their laptops and other belongings.

Following the incident, Indian Muslim Congress Malaysia (Kimma) president senator Datuk Syed Ibrahim Kader proposed that mamak restaurant operators engage armed security guards to protect the premises from robbers.

He also proposed shortening the operating hours for mamak restaurants located in areas where the outlets have become easy targets of robbers.

It was also reported that the association would meet the police soon to discuss safety issues.

Although city folk are familiar with the sight of security guards at high-risk premises like banks, jewellers and pawnshops, as well as at entrances to gated communities, a security man seated at a 24-hour mamak restaurant will take some getting used to.

It will be a sight for sore eyes, especially those made sore by 24-hour Internet surfing daily.

With security beefed up, they can surf with peace of mind as they would not have to worry about losing their laptops and iPads.

Having the operating hours cut short, however, may not go well with these regulars. The move, if implemented, would deprive these Internet users of free Wi-Fi.

Even those who frequent mamak restaurants not to surf the net, but for the food, would not agree to the shortening of the operating hours, especially when the mamak restaurant has become an icon of eating convenience.

Where will nightshift workers find their meals? Tourists, too, who have been repeatedly told in travel brochures that they can find food in the city throughout the day would feel shortchanged if there were no 24-hour nasi kandar joints around.

Looking at the big picture, shortening the opening hours of the restaurants may have a negative impact on social life, not to mention the economy. Those who will welcome the proposal, I think, will be the wives of hard-core mamak restaurant regulars.

These women can now free themselves of the "janda kedai mamak" label -- a term to be spoken in the same breath as janda joran or angler's widow in Malay. Like golf widow, janda joran refers to a wife whose her husband spends most of his free time fishing rather than with her.

I suppose if mamak restaurants are made to reduce their operating hours, these long-suffering women can hope to see more of their men in bed than having them at the eateries till the wee hours of the morning.

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