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Kelantan night-market ruling draws flak from some quarters

Night markets are popular with locals and tourists.

PETALING JAYA –  The ruling to compel night market traders, including non-Muslims, in Kelantan to cease business during maghrib prayers drew flak from some quarters.

Kelantan MCA state liaison committee secretary Datuk Lua Choon Hann said the requirement did not take into account the long-term effects on the local economy, people’s livelihoods and the “erosion of non-Muslim rights”.

“The Kelantan government should introduce policies to revive the economy, and promote local delicacies and the skills of Kelantan’s cottage industry which foreign tourists are keen on, rather than be so obsessed with restricting and stifling business,” said Lua in a statement on 18 Apr 2017.

The day before, Apr 17, Kelantan’s Local Government, Housing and Sports Committee chairman Abdul Fattah Mahmood said entrance to the night markets would be closed five minutes before prayers and reopened shortly after the maghrib prayers ended.

He said the ruling was imposed under the Kota Baru City Council by-laws 10 years ago and last year [2016], the ruling was expanded to the entire state in a move to standardise enforcement.

Abdul Fattah said those who failed to comply risked having their licence suspended.

Meanwhile, former Kota Baru lawmaker Zaid Ibrahim said that he would file a suit to challenge the ruling, saying in a tweet that the ruling is illegal.

“The ruling to disallow traders from opening their shops before 3 pm during Ramadhan is also illegal. Kelantan leaders are irresponsible and many of their policies have no basis in law,” said Zaid.

Related to it, Bishop Emeritus Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor said the ruling is a “confirmation if at all that is needed” that Muslim strictures will eventually be imposed on non-Muslims in Malaysian.

“All this while, we have heard with great scepticism assurances by proponents of Islamic ordinances that these won’t be imposed on non-Muslims,” he said.

He added that the Kelantan state government ruling that non-Muslim-owned shops must all close during maghrib prayers is “proof incontrovertible” that eventually Muslim laws, if given reign, will be imposed on non-Muslims in Malaysia. – Various sources

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