The Kelantan government has clarified that ruling for traders to stop operations during maghrib (dusk) prayers only applies to pasar malam (night market) traders, and not other businesses.
Abdul Fattah Mahmood, the executive councillor in charge of local government, said such traders in Kelantan are all Muslim.
"I have explained this before, that it only applies to pasar malam traders. This has been practised in the Kota Baru Municipal Council for a long time.
"This is why I said it is extended to other local councils, implemented first at the main pasar malam of the local councils as a pilot project. I never said all premises, just pasar malam," he told Sinar Harian.
Abdul Fattah's position now was different from what he was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today on April 17.
"All traders are affected, including non-Muslims. This will allow them time to rest and perform their prayers.
"It's not very long, only about 10 minutes. The important thing is that there is no trade when the azan called, and trade resumes after prayers are performed," he told the news portal on Monday.
The ruling for a 10 minute shutdown is to allow Muslim traders to perform the maghrib prayers as there is a smaller window of time to do so compared to the other four Muslim prayer periods throughout the day.
'Different during Nik Aziz's time'
Abdul Fattah's announcement on April 17 was condemned by Parti Amanah Negara vice-president Husam Musa, who said it is unfair to impose the ruling on non-Muslim traders.
However, Abdul Fattah told Malaysiakini it was Husam who first mooted the idea when he was executive councilor.
To this, Husam explained that his idea was only for night market traders, who are all Muslim, and not to all businesses.
Responding to Abdul Fattah today, Husam said the Kelantan executive councilor has clearly made a "U-turn" and should own up to his mistake.
He added that the tradition of taking a break for maghrib prayers started in the 1990s with then Kelantan Menter Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat leading prayers at Pasar Malam Padang Bas in Kota Baru. The Pasar Malam Padang Bas is now a supermarket, he said.
Cannot be enforced
He said that at the time Nik Abdul Aziz had sought legal advice on the matter and discussed the issue with PAS and the state government.
The decision at the time was the 10-minute break to be an "advisory" which has no legal bearing, with the government encouraging prayers by facilities like space to pray, water supply for ablution and an officer who announces that the time for maghrib.
This was unlike what the Kelantan government is trying to impose now, he said, referring to Abdul Fattah's statement that those breaching the ruling could have their trading licences could be revoked.
"As long as it is an encouragement, then it is a good thing and that was why I supported it before but not if it is imposed through law, including on non-Muslim traders.
"It was never enforced by law and there were never threats to cancel trading licences. This was why Abdul Fattah's statement was shocking and why I corrected him," he said.- Mkini