Non-halal restaurants renew appeal for dining ban exemption
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
SEVENTEEN non-halal restaurants have sent a second letter of appeal to the Ministry of Religious Affairs to allow them to serve non-Muslim customers during Ramadhan fasting hours.
In a letter addressed to the permanent secretary of religious affairs dated June 15, the non-halal restaurant owners asked the authorities to reconsider the ruling prohibiting all restaurant owners from serving dine-in customers during fasting hours.
They said in the letter that restaurants still have to pay rent for their premises, staff quarters and their wages.
“We hope Dato can reconsider or give some leniency to help us overcome these issues. If Dato agrees, we promise to ensure our customers will be served behind closed doors and respect Muslims who are fasting.
“We are willing to adhere to any instructions set forth by the ministry so that our appeal can be reconsidered,” the letter read.
The first letter of appeal from the same group of 17 non-halal restaurants was sent to the ministry on July 7, 2014.
The ministry had acknowledged receiving the letter, and had said the matter would be directed to “concerned parties”.
On the same day when the second letter of appeal was submitted, the ministry issued a statement saying all restaurants are banned from serving dine-in customers during Ramadhan.
It added eateries that breach the regulation would be prosecuted under Chapter 195 of the Syariah Penal Code Order for disrespecting the month of Ramadhan.
Under Chapter 195 of the Syariah Penal Code Order, anyone who consumes, sells or serves any food, drink or tobacco for immediate consumption in a public place during the fasting hours of Ramadhan shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $4,000 and/or jail for a maximum of one year.
Medical practitioners or anyone who serves food, drink or medicine to patients during the fasting hours are exempted from the law.
Non-Muslims can still order takeaways from the restaurants during fasting hours.
One of the letter’s signatories, who asked not to be named, said he hoped the ministry would take serious consideration in allowing the eateries to serve dine-in non-Muslim customers.
“We fully respect all Muslims here during the fasting month, and that is why we are asking to please reconsider (and) allow us to let our customers eat in our restaurant. We will close the doors so that the customers cannot be seen eating. We have so many expenses to pay which we cannot cover from just takeaways,” he said.
The Brunei Times