Different rules for different traders, and they are not happy

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SHAH ALAM: Inconsistencies in the list of sectors deemed to be essential and allowed to operate during the movement control order has left many small traders disappointed.

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For example, while standalone fashion and clothing outlets are not allowed to open as they are deemed “non-essential”, departmental stores that offer a wide range of consumer goods, are allowed to sell the same items.

A check by FMT found that clothing stores in the Parkson departmental store in Setia City Mall were open for business.

“We are open from 10am to 8pm daily, according to the SOPs. However, customers are not allowed to try on clothes in the stores,” the departmental store’s senior store manager Azhar Tajul Ariffin told FMT.

Referring to the inconsistencies, the Kuala Lumpur Bumiputera Traders and Hawkers Association said the SOPs were unfair to other retailers, especially the small businesses.

“How is it that one operator is allowed to do business but another has to close? They are basically selling the same products, such as clothing items,” the association’s vice-president Muhamad Baba Kutty told FMT.

Baba Kutty said the government should have discussed the matter, including what was essential and what was not, with stakeholders and affected parties before making any decision.

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“They (the government) didn’t get proper advice before coming up with the SOPs,” he said, adding that the government should provide clear and detailed SOPs without any inconsistency.

He cited similar situations in the past where the authorities, including city councils, had made decisions that affected retailers without first consulting them.

“They would do a U-turn after we protest. This is a waste of time. They should include us more in the decision-making process,” he said.

He also raised concerns over the restrictions on the operating time for businesses, most of which are allowed to operate from 6am to 8pm.

He said not all businesses operated from the morning. “Some hawkers operate in the evening. Limiting the operation hours is therefore unfair to them.

He urged the government to allow such small businesses and hawkers to operate until midnight.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Zamri Mohammed, the secretary-general of the Malaysian Association of Malay Hawkers and Small Businessmen, said: “We hope the government will ease restrictions on hawkers and traders.”- FMT

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