Stall shutdown leaves Muslims with fewer options
By Shaiful Rizal
Mar. 13 2010
Muslim students and staff visiting the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences canteen for their meals have fewer choices now that a halal-certified stall has closed permanently.
Yong Lian Kim, management assistant officer for retail & dining services at the NUS Office of Estate and Development (OED), said the Western food stall at The Deck ceased operations on Jan. 6.
“They did not give any reasons,” Yong said. “They just wanted to stop operating.”
Many of the other stall vendors in the canteen had no idea why it shut down.
The closure has affected Muslims the most, whose only options remain the Malay stall and fast-food joint Burger King. The other stalls in The Deck are not certified halal.
Halal food refers to food or drinks that are permitted for consumption under Islamic law. In Singapore, the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura, also known as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, administers halal certification.
Alyani Maulod, a third-year sociology major, said, “The food (from the Western food stall) was not that great, but at least it gave us more options.”
Maulod added that she and her Muslim friends rarely get their meals from the Malay stall as it offers only “nasi campur” – a dish of rice topped with various meats, vegetables and other ingredients – which is typically eaten in most Malay families.
“Why would we eat something that we always have at home?” she said.
Seven out of nine Muslim students who spoke to the Observer said they would rather have their meals at the Faculty of Engineering (FOE) than at The Deck now.
Third-year English language major Putri Irianti is one of them.
“I don’t mind walking further (to the FOE) to get better food,” she said.
Yong however said students can expect a new stall to open later this month.
Vendors applying for a stall on campus must have relevant experience in the food and beverage industry, pass standard tests and, more importantly, offer reasonable prices.
The Western food stall had operated in The Deck for three years. A contract to operate in the canteen runs for two years, after which vendors are allowed to extend or cease operations.