‘Eat and Run’. This headline on a national daily sounds like the writer is reminding us to exercise. Silly me, of course it is not. It is a story about customers not paying the bill at the ‘mamak’ restaurants.

Another recent issue brought into the limelight involves the reinstatement of the foreign workers’ replacement scheme for all sectors effective July 1 this year. The recent announcement made by the Minister of Human Resources M. Kulasegaran has SME owners jumping for joy.

Since it is easier now for SMEs including those ‘mamak’ restaurant operators to engage the services of foreign workers, it is not clear whether they will hire more foreign workers to monitor customers who have ill intentions of not paying the bill.

The question is whether hiring more workers will prevent customers from not paying their bills.

I personally doubt so! Instead of hiring more staff, restaurants should instead adopt the self-serve concept which reduces the need to hire more workers.

It is indeed a better solution to prevent customers who avoid paying their bills. After all, I don’t hear of customers walking away with their food without paying at McDonald’s or KFC.

Whether it is a ‘mamak’ or Chinese ‘kopitiam’, it is still common for operators to provide table-service to their customers.

Therefore, they naturally require more workers than self-service restaurants. With the high rate of unemployment, if locals don’t mind working in ‘mamak’ or ‘kopitiam’ outlets, I would deem it logical or feasible to provide table-service.

However, it has been decades since ‘mamak’ and ‘kopitiam’ outlets have been facing shortage of workers and relying on foreigners to carry out those 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs.

It makes me wonder why these businesses still operate the same way and keep lobbying for more foreign workers.

Looks like another case of the spectator sees more of the game!

God bless SMEs!