Non-halal eateries refute Ramadhan raid rumour
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
SEVERAL non-halal restaurants were allegedly raided by the authorities yesterday for illegally serving food to daytime customers during Ramadhan, according to an unverified text message that went viral on social media.
The text message claimed that Lucky Restaurant at Batu Satu was raided at 10am, followed by Café de Paris and Chin Nam Hong in Gadong at 10.30am.
It was also alleged that customers eating breakfast were asked to leave, while the popular eateries were ordered to close as it is against the law for any restaurants to serve food to customers during the daytime throughout the fasting month.
When approached by The Brunei Times, employees at the non-halal restaurants denied that the raids had taken place.
Café de Paris manager Jenny Lie said no raids were conducted by law-enforcement at her restaurant on the first day of Ramadhan, but many customers who heard about the rumour did enquire whether the incident was true.
“We had to tell them that no such thing happened,” she explained, adding that they remained open for business as usual.
Despite the ban on daytime dining on public premises, Café de Paris was still serving food to customers during the fasting hours. The non-halal restaurant located nearby Micronet International College yesterday appeared to be fully occupied by non-Muslims.
“We are unaware of any ban on daytime dining during Ramadhan as we didn’t receive any letter or notice from the authorities,” she said.
However, Lie assured that the management of Café de Paris would duly obey if they were informed about any government directives.
“So far we haven’t received anything from officials, which is why we decided to stay open,” she added.
Meanwhile, an employee of Lucky Restaurant, said customers were allowed to order takeaway, but not dine-in during the daytime in compliance with the law.
Another non-halal restaurant, Chin Nam Hong, was closed from 2pm to 6pm with a notice on its doors stating that its operating hours for Ramadhan have changed to 6pm to 10pm for both dine-in and takeaway, while customers can only take away food from 6.30am to 2pm.
Officials from the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) and Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) were also unaware of any raids conducted on restaurants yesterday.
Under Section 195 of the newly-enforced Syariah Penal Code Order, it is illegal for any person to sell or serve any food, drink or tobacco for immediate consumption at that spot, in a public place, during the fasting hours in the month of Ramadhan.
If found guilty of “disrespecting the month of Ramadhan”, offenders could face a maximum fine of $4,000, imprisonment for up to a year or both.
In a press conference held on the eve of the fasting month, MUIB confirmed that both halal and non-halal restaurants were not allowed to serve food for daytime diners throughout Ramadhan, but they were allowed to remain open to accommodate takeaway orders.
MUIB Acting Secretary Hj Abd Aziz Hj Akop last Saturday also advised restaurant owners to inform their staff and customers about the law.
The Brunei Times