Genuine cybercafes forced to shut down?

Majlis Perbandaran Sepang (MPS)’s firm action against illegal cyber cafes drew flak as a cybercafe operator claimed to be forced to close down even though his business is legitimate.

Ashy Affandee, previously a cyber café owner in Bandar Baru Salak, claimed his Mirza Cyber Café was not issued a license even though he has submitted the complete application.

“My application was pending and I don’t know why it was not approved. In the meantime I got three warning letters from MPS, urging me to close down or they would confiscate my computers,”

He said according to the council’s regulation, a cyber café must have operated physically before it could be granted a license.

“I don’t know how they asssessed the application but my shop is totally clean of any wrongdoing,”

Ashy said his Mirza cyber cafe was a genuine one.

Ashy spent about RM80,000 to renovate and equip his shop. It was opened for business in June 2008 and ordered to shut down in January.

“I have written a letter to Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim and the MPS, but have received no reply so far.”

He found many local council regulations on cybercafes are contradictory and ridiculous.

“In Nilai they are allowed to open 24 hours whereas in Sepang only from 10-10pm,”

“People visit cybercafes during their leisure time, so there is no reason for us to open mainly in the daytime,”

MPS last week disposed of some 104 computer screens, 76 CPUs and 53 keyboards, which they confiscated in a series of operations to raid illegal cyber cafes from September 2009 to March 2010.

MPS destroying the confiscated computers

The PR officer of MPS, Zelda Bin Mohd Zamri, said mushrooming of illegal cyber outlets in small towns like Sungai Pelek and Dengkil is due to the lack of entertainment facilities.

She, however, admitted that illegal gambling was so far unseen in those cafes.

Ashy agreed, saying he seldom heard of cybercafes in Sepang conducting such activities.

“That’s why I don’t understand why it is so hard to get a license,”

MPS licensing department, when contacted, said instruction has been given by the Selangor state government to suspend the issue of licenses to cyber cafes.

“Until now no timeframe is specified on how long it will last,” Hasnidar Ali, assistant officer of the licensing department said.

“If under the normal circumstances, an application must go through the inspection of the police department, which means police will visit the applicant’s shop first,”

“Maybe it was pending over there (at the police department),”

She meanwhile advised the public to apply for a license first before operation to avoid great losses like Ashy’s.