Commentary Local

Mamak restaurants shouldn’t lose Malaysians’ trust

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

THERE have been quite a number of complaints about mamak (Indian Muslim) restaurants of late.

Granted that past complaints over their alleged profiteering shenanigans were often heard, but those were akin to  ‘teh tarik’ foams which dissipates in due time.

Most of their customers tend to turn the other cheek because no matter how expensive it gets, a plate of Briyani rice topped with the all-time favourite ‘kuah campur’ (mixed broth) and tandoori chicken is simply to die for.

But this time, complaints such as charging RM10 for air-conditioning fee was perhaps a little too much.

And judging from the public outcry in social media over the matter, it would seem to suggest that some Malaysians have had it.

Although the management of the mamak restaurant in that instance had came clear with an explanation, the damage has more or less apparently been done.

Suffice to say that from now on, wary eyes will be ever so diligent in scrutinising dining receipts, especially so if they happened to dine at a mamak restaurant.

But truth be told, there was nothing illegal to impose such a fee, as even Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said the same thing.

Yet he did stress the need for restaurateurs to be transparent about it, lest customers felt as if they were cheated.

To boot, the ministry had even visited the so-called infamous mamak restaurant to check the prices for themselves.

Such seriousness shown by the Ministry over the matter was both reassuring and surprising.

Surprising because their action contradicts the slothful image that they were often associated with based on comments in cyberspace.

Nevertheless, it is good to know that amidst the current less than calm political atmosphere, there were still those like Hamzah, who still continue to be diligent and prompt in handling day-to-day matters which seems “small” but have great impact on the image of the government among the people.

Be that as it may, the legality of such air-conditioning fee was not the main issue.

For many Malaysians, the beef they currently have with mamak restaurants is that such a fee is often associated with high-end restaurants.

It was unsettling to them because mamak restaurants were supposed to be the opposite of a posh fine dining sit-downs.

Some had even questioned the need for mamak restaurants to even install an air-conditioner because in reality it does not really need to.

The heat today is indeed scorching but it is not something that a couple of mist-spraying fans can’t fix.

Mamak restaurants should diversify but they do not have to unnecessarily upgrade or try to rebrand their image.

In fact, their foothold in our local food and beverages industry has already been established years ago.

They were supposed to offer the best choice for everyone when it comes to finding a place offering affordable food and therefore should not be exploiting such Malaysians’ belief.

Because at the end of the day, a mamak restaurant will be the place Malaysians will head to after failing to answer the hard question of “Nak makan kat mana?” (So where do we eat?)



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at