KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 -- Ramadan this year will not be the same, especially for Muslims in Malaysia, with the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO), now entering its fourth phase, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As is often the case, a few days prior to Ramadan, various plans and preparations, including spiritually, were made by Muslims to welcome the holy month, including the Ramadan bazaar traders, who would be busy making preparations at the bazaar sites.
However, the situation is certainly not the same this year, as no Ramadan bazaar is allowed to operate during MCO, but the traders are shifting to selling online, which can be seen with numerous Ramadan bazaar groups in the country surfacing on Facebook.
Just by typing the word “Ramadan bazaar” at the Facebook search box, various group names will be listed such as Bazar Ramadan Online (BRO) Ampang, Batang Kali, Shah Alam, Seremban, Ipoh, Taiping, Satok-Petrajaya, Semporna, Kuala Nerus, Dungun and Batu Pahat.
Whatever food or drinks one desires will be in the lists of menu they provide, from the popular dish and kuih for the breaking of fast to the normal ones, such as bubur lambuk, murtabak, roti John, sup 'gearbox', ayam percik, air katira, cendol, popia basah and kuih tepung pelita.
Some of the interesting promotions are by Murtabak King Ganu who wrote “Murtabak KiNG Padu! sutir (sebiji) boleh makan tiga, empat orang kenyang nyandor! murtabak penuh isi confirm puas hati, cash-on-delivery (COD) kawasan Marang dan Kuala Terengganu” (a piece of the murtabak can feed three to four people and that they make COD in Marang and Terengganu).
A “roti John” seller at BRO Hulu Selangor wrote: 'Para penggemar roti John Cheese Gedebuk! you make order we deliver.'
Netizens are also using the Facebook by the Ramadan bazaar traders to get their favourite dish for their breaking of fast.
One of them, Facebook user Amiyra Rara wrote; “Saya mencari sesiapa ada jual kuih tepung pelita sedap? kuih wajib saya sekeluarga bila bulan puasa”. (I'm looking for someone who sells tasty kuih tepung pelita. It is a compulsory dessert for my family during the fasting month).
On BRO Ampang, Selangor, Facebook, Akmal Latif wrote it was a relief to be able to access the bazaar online.
"Fortunately there is BRO, I can buy ‘kuih bakar’ and ‘popia basah’, which are my favourite during Ramadan,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Zulbahri Atan, 50, who has been selling beverages at the Batu Pahat Ramadan Bazaar since the past eight years, said this year’s Ramadan is his first attempt at carrying online business. He is among the traders in the BRO Batu Pahat group.
His special concoction include “air cikong” (lai chee kang) and “air katira”.
A housewife in Sungai Buloh, Siti Rasni Ahmad, 43, is taking the opportunity to venture into business this Ramadan by joining the BRO Paya Jaras Facebook group.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division (BKKM) in its official website also issued a number of guidelines on food safety in food preparation for home-based food entrepreneurs.
The basic requirements include getting anti-typhoid vaccination, to be hygienic at all times, like washing hands often with soap, use chopsticks or gloves when handling food, cover the mouth and cook in a clean environment using clean clean equipment.
Another is the need for them to obtain raw materials such as chicken, fish, meat and vegetables from sources that are clean and hygienic, ensure they are properly cooked and packed using suitable packaging.