JOHOR BARU: Many restaurant owners here say they have much to chew on before they can offer the government-initiated Menu Rahmah.
“My main concern is the cost of chicken and fish, which are essential sources of nutrients for a balanced meal,” said restaurant owner Mohd Rafee Abdullah, 50.
“I am worried that I may not be able to provide the meal in the long run if prices go up again,” he added.
Mohd Rafee said he was keen to take part in Menu Rahmah, despite it not being a compulsory programme.
“Some patrons have started asking about the menu when they drop by my restaurant,” he said in an interview.
However, he said he would need to study its long-term feasibility.
“It is definitely a good initiative, but we need to make several considerations before taking part in it. I do not want to come up with an affordable meal only to take it off the menu after a few months,” he added.
Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub announced last week that Malaysians could enjoy RM5 (or below) meals at nearly 15,000 eateries nationwide through Menu Rahmah.
The programme is being run with the cooperation of the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners’ Association, Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association, Malaysian Tomyam Operators Association, Malaysian Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association, Bumiputera Retailers Organisation, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, and Malaysia Retailers Association.
Another restaurant owner, Tan Kim Hock, said he was considering taking part in the initiative once Menu Rahmah is opened up to non-halal food outlets.
“The cheapest meal at my restaurant for a rice with two dishes is about RM7, which is slightly higher than Menu Rahmah.
“I think it will not be much of a problem for me to make some adjustments to the portion and selection of dishes to fit the meal for the programme.”
Tan, 59, said he would try offering Menu Rahmah for a few months, once the programme is open to non-halal eateries.
“If it is sustainable, then I will continue with it for a longer period,” he added.
Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneur Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said that some of its members had started including Menu Rahmah in their restaurants while others were still thinking about it.
“Some of our members who are restaurant owners and are also members of Presma (the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association) have taken part in the initiative since it was launched last week.
“Others have yet to come to a decision. It is not easy for them to take part in the initiative as they would bear the extra cost of preparing the food, so they will need more time to decide,” he said.
He said the programme was meant to help those in the B40 category and the hardcore poor but everybody else is welcome to get the balanced meal at restaurants where Menu Rahmah is available.
“We cannot be checking our customers one by one to verity if they are from the B40 category. It is better to just open it to everyone who wants to try out the menu,” he added.