Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has backed the Johor state's decision to switch the state's official rest days to Friday and Saturday starting next year.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has backed the Johor state's decision to switch the state's official rest days to Friday and Saturday starting next year.
He added that the federal government will respect the decision and that all government agencies will make the necessary changes.
However, many were caught off guard by the change, and some are questioning why there was not any public consultation.
The Johor state government said that before 1994, Thursdays and Fridays were the official rest days, and locals and businesses adjusted to the change then.
So, it argued that when the weekends are moved to Friday and Saturday starting next year, it shouldn't cause too many problems.
Speaking in Kuala Lumpur, Prime Minister Najib Razak declined to comment on the impact of the change.
Mr Najib said: "It's a state decision. So under the constitution we have to respect once the state has made a decision.
“But we are in consultations with the state government and also the private sector, and also looking in terms of investors interests.
“Also, we are creating this UTC, Urban Transformation Centre which will house both the federal and state departments in Johor Bahru and that will be open 7 days a week, so people can make use of that."
Some argued that the switch may help boost tourism and productivity in the state, while others complained about the inconvenience caused.
Although the private sector can decide whether to follow suit, it is concerned about higher operating costs from having to pay double on Fridays.
Lim Chee Wee, former Malaysia Bar Council president, said: "While there's no legal requirement for consultation, I think there is an expectation of consultation. I am sure rulers these days are more open to dissenting views. This is not even a criticism. This is a dissenting view."
Professor Shamsul Amri Baharudin, director (Institute of Ethnic Studies) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said: "When it is the prerogative of the royal family when it relates to religion, then it becomes a bit difficult, because each state, each Sultan has the prerogative to decide anything related to religion.”
The impending switch has also sparked debate on whether employees who are of Christian faith should be allowed some time off to attend church on Sunday.