SINGAPORE: Operations at Kim San Leng Food Centre, a popular coffee shop located next to the Bishan bus interchange, will be suspended for a day on Friday (Jan 20) for failing to keep the premises free from rats.
The food centre at Bishan Street 13 accumulated 12 demerit points for rat infestations and another four demerit points for failing to deposit refuse in a bin lined with a plastic bag - all within a 12-month period, according to a suspension notice on the National Environment Agency's (NEA) website posted on Monday.
The food centre's operator has also been fined S$1,100 for the offences.
According to NEA, operators of coffee shops, food courts and canteens that accumulate 12 or more demerit points within 12 months may have their licences suspended for between one and three days as a result of their offences, depending on their past records. All food stalls within the premises will also have to stop operations for the same period of time.
NEA also urged members of the public to avoid patronising food establishments that practise poor hygiene practices, and to contact the agency at 1800-225 5632 if they come across such outlets.
“RATS ARE EVERYWHERE IN SINGAPORE”
When Channel NewsAsia visited Kim San Leng on Tuesday at lunchtime, the coffee shop was packed with customers and there were more waiting for seats. No rats were spotted and refuse bins wheeled around by the cleaners were lined with plastic bags.
All 10 stallholders said they had been instructed to close on Friday but no reason was given to them. All expressed confidence in their hygiene standards - drinks stall helper Ah Mei stated that she had never seen rats during her daytime shift.
The stallholders were also nonchalant about having to stop business for a day.
Workers at the popular Ming Ji Chicken Rice stall, who did not want to be named, said they believed the one-day closure was for cleaning. Some also said they would welcome a few more days of rest.
"Closing for one day is no big deal, in fact it's good - now I can go Chinese New Year shopping," said Sherry Yap, 40, who mans a snacks stall.
Most customers who were having their lunch when approached said they did not find Kim San Leng any dirtier than other coffee shops in Singapore.
Mr Lim, 27, a data analyst who works nearby, said the suspension would not prevent him from eating there again. Bishan resident Nelson Gan said the same. "I'm not surprised there are rats here ... Rats are everywhere in Singapore," said the 24-year-old student.
Fellow Bishan resident and retiree Chan Mui agreed. "Kim San Leng doesn't look very dirty to me," said the 76-year-old in Mandarin. "So what if there are rats? Rats also need to eat."
But some, like public relations professional Darren Ng, said the one-day closure was enough to put him off from ever returning to Kim San Leng. "I'm particular about the food I eat and hygiene standards," said the 31-year-old, who lives nearby. "How are they going to fix the rat problem in just one day?"