Small businesses in Malaysia welcome full Covid-19 lockdown but plead for government aid

Shoppers at a mall in Malaysia purchasing items ahead of a full lockdown that will start on June 1. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Mamak shops, eateries and coffee-shop groups in Malaysia have welcomed the full lockdown that will start on Tuesday (June 1) but are pleading for various assistance from the government to help them survive the current circumstances.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said they had been expecting the full lockdown as they were among those who had made earlier calls to help stop the Covid-19 outbreak.

"However, we hope the government will be strict and observe discipline in implementing the standard operating procedure," he said.

"It should not be biased towards any sector."

He also appealed to the government to find ways to allow banks to extend loan moratoriums until the end of the year.

"Many of our members complained that some of their bank loan interest had been increased," he said.

"We hope the government can look into this."

Bumiputera Retailers Organisation president Ameer Ali Mydin said many supermarkets across the country saw a spike in the number of customers.

"Many rushed to stock up on the basic necessities in anticipation of a full lockdown. There was some panic-buying across the country based on social media posts," he said.

"We hope the government can come up with solutions to help those affected by the lockdown, especially the 'bottom 40' group and daily wage earners," he said, referring to low-income earners.

Datuk Ameer, who is managing director of halal hypermarket chain Mydin, said it would give full rental waivers its tenants who cannot operate during the lockdown.

Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors' General Association president Wong Teu Hoon said it also welcomed the announcement of a total lockdown, which would help alleviate the pandemic.

"I urge all members to strictly abide by the SOP. I also hope that the authorities will strictly control and take stern action and avoid any double standards in enforcement," he said.

Malaysia Hair Salon Owners Association chairman A.K. Selvan said members reported an increased in bookings over the weekend.

"Most of our members said appointments were full as people were not sure whether our sector would be affected. Many rushed to get their haircut after the previous experience," he said.

He urged the government to provide soft loans to hair salon owners as they were among the hardest hit.

"Most of us have fixed expenses such as shop rental, utilities and staff salary," he said.

"If we get perhaps RM50,000 (S$16,000) in soft loan, we will be able to survive until the year end."

Datin Winnie Loo, founder of A Cut Above Salons and Academy and honorary president of the Malaysian Hairdressing Association, said that although a full lockdown would be painful for many salon owners, imposing it was the right move.

"Some would like to open but we have to consider all factors including putting staff at risk. It is better to have short-term pain than long-term suffering," she said.

"Most importantly, the government needs to speed up the vaccination process as it is the only way forward."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.