SHAH ALAM: Malaysian police are searching for a man after he slapped a waiter who tried to stop him from smoking in a Shah Alam restaurant.
The 25-year-old waiter, an Indian national, had approached three men after he saw them smoking inside Ameer Corner restaurant, said Shah Alam police chief Baharudin Mat Taib on Thursday (Jan 3).
"They were told politely told to stop smoking, but one of the men immediately slapped the waiter on the face," said Baharudin.
The incident happened around 12.30pm on Tuesday, the first day of a smoking ban at all food establishments.
“We had placed no smoking signs, but some customers were still smoking,” the waiter, M Selvam, was quoted as saying by The Star.
“I went over to politely tell a group of three men to stop smoking, but one of them got up and slapped me.”
The group subsequently left the restaurant after making payment.
The waiter, who did not suffer any serious injuries, reported the incident to the restaurant owner who later lodged a police report.
According to the Malay Mail, police have CCTV footage of the incident, as well as testimony from witnesses.
Baharudin, the police chief said: “There were also two other workers and five patrons at the time of the incident. The waiter also claimed that the suspect was a non-regular at the restaurant.”
Later that day, Selvam was scolded by another customer when he tried to point out the smoking ban. “I don’t know why people can’t just follow the rules and behave like this,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.
Under the new rules, anyone found guilty of smoking in banned areas can be fined up to RM10,000 (US$2,450) or jailed up to two years.
Owners of food establishments who fail to display no-smoking signs can be fined up to RM3,000 or jailed up to one year.
As of Wednesday, the government has issued over 1,400 warning letters for contravening the regulations.
However, the Malaysian Health Ministry will give offenders a grace period of six months to comply with the ban, during which it would educate and warn restaurant owners and smokers.