Malaysian businesses hit hard by the floods

Seafood distributor Kiu Wee Jen discarding items that were damaged during the floods in Shah Alam. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Seafood distributor Kiu Wee Jen opened his shop just two months ago in Shah Alam, Selangor, selling seafood, poultry and frozen ingredients.

And then the floods struck. The water damaged the electrical appliances in his shop and also left him without power supply.

"We need electricity to store our frozen food. But when the flood hit us, there was no electricity for four days and our food was spoiled. We suffered losses of more than RM120,000 (S$38,900)," said Mr Kiu, 35.

He had bought insurance that focused on public liability for his customers. However, he did not buy any insurance for natural disasters. As a result, he will have to close his business for the time being.

Mr Kiu said it would cost him a lot of money to get his freezers fixed.

"Some freezers cannot be fixed as they had already rusted. My partner and I will have to fork out a lot of money to fix them. And we were told that the condition of the freezers might be affected even if we get them fixed.

"It is a risky move as our products need to be frozen at all times to ensure freshness. Therefore, we decided to stop business first, clear up the shop and pay our suppliers," he said.

Mr Kiu is among thousands of small business owners who are affected by the recent flood that hit parts of Selangor and the Klang Valley.

Floods triggered by days of continuous heavy rain between Dec 17 and 19 displaced more than 50,000 people across the country, including those in the Klang Valley.

Grocery store owner Tee Tze Wei, 42, said floodwater entered her shop so quickly that she did not manage to move her goods to higher ground.

"It has been a family business for 49 years. This is the first time we were so badly affected.

"In the past, the water level was around 15cm only and we managed to move our items to safety. This time around, the water was more than 60cm. Everything happened so quickly and within 10 minutes, my shop was flooded," she said.

Ms Tee estimated her loss to be around RM50,000.

"This is the worst flooding I have experienced in over four decades. We bought fire and theft insurance but did not expect such a severe flood to occur," she said.

"Our dry items such as rice, sugar and oil were all soaked in water. We are still cleaning up and it is going to take quite a while as we have to dispose off a lot of stuff," she added.

Flooded shops in Shah Alam, Selangor, on Dec 21, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Restaurant owner Abdullah Bakar has no words to describe how devastating it was to see his restaurant submerged in water in the massive flood that hit Shah Alam.

The owner of Salsabeel Restaurant said floodwater slowly filled up his restaurant starting on Dec 17 night.

"Everything was damaged and I could not go to my restaurant until the following Monday," he said.

He estimated at least RM150,000 losses due to the damage to his restaurant.

"The tables, chairs, ice containers and cooking machines are all damaged. When we came to check, our cooking gas tank was floating. I have never experienced anything like this before," said a visibly upset Mr Abdullah.

He is currently still cleaning up his shop and hopes to reopen his shop soon once everything is settled.

Some eatery operators say they are still tabulating the losses from the damage left by the recent severe floods.

Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Jawahar Ali said many of their members were affected by the floods, especially those in Shah Alam.

"At the moment, we are estimating a loss of more than RM400,000. We have yet to ascertain the exact figures as they are still verifying the full situation," he said.

According to Datuk Jawahar, many Presma members have insurance but a lot of them do not have the flood coverage clause.

"Many of our members are still trying to clean up their restaurants. We are discussing with the relevant authorities about how to help them," he added.

Vehicles and a shop-lot submerged by floodwater in Shah Alam, Selangor, on Dec 19, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors' General Association president Wong Teu Hoon said it is too early to get the exact amount of losses incurred among his members who were affected by the floods.

"The situation has been really bad for many of us. But we hope to get some assistance for our members," he said.

Malaysian Hawkers and Petty Traders Association president Rosli Sulaiman said that many of the association's members in Selangor were affected by the recent floods.

"They told me that their furniture is damaged and none of the cooking appliances in their premises is functioning. The waters in some areas reached up to the ceiling of their eateries. Most of their properties are damaged and covered by floodwater and mud.

"We hope that government leaders and the relevant authorities can go to the ground to see for themselves the impact of the flood," he said, adding that the government would then be able to determine the best solutions for the restaurant owners.

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