By Michael Tay, Johor MCA Government Coordinating Affairs chairman.
I met my friend just now. He had started his first business at the age of 18. He’s 50 now and has several shop lots in two shopping malls.
Brian (not his real name) is feeling very stressed as he has received a letter from the management of one of his shop lots, reminding him to pay his rental.
Brian’s business at that mall has not exactly been profitable even before the pandemic simply because the rental was RM10,000 per month and he has three workers, each earning RM1,500, and then there were the taxes.
And with the onslaught of Covid-19, Brian is at a loss as to what he should do next. The management said they could reduce the rental on the condition that he extends the lease for another two years, or take up additional shop lots which are currently vacant.
I am also a landlord and over the years, I have forged friendships with my tenants. Since the lockdown started on March 18, I have reduced the rental by 30 to 50 per cent. This is the time to support tenants, not give them a hard time. If banks and landlords are going to be uncompromising, they are going to “kill” businessmen like Brian.
Brian also found out that he was not entitled to any of the incentives in the government’s stimulus package as his sales turnover exceeded RM100,000. When Brian approached several local banks for a loan, he also did not get an encouraging answer to his problem.
He has to pay his workers and the rental, and yet he cannot operate the business. I hope landlords, banks and even the government will look into the plight of people like Brian who are at their wits’ end right now. If they are “destroyed”, this is not going to help our economy.
Please save our local entrepreneurs as they are the ones who are providing jobs for the people.
For those who have savings and cash to spare, now is a good time to enter Bursa Malaysia as share prices have plunged. It’s time to snap up some blue chips.
Shoppers will venture to malls again when our hospitalisation rates have reached a plateau or when someone can assure us that those who are asymptomatic cannot spread the disease and whether there is going to be a second wave.Until that happens, we should shop online. But I want to caution online shoppers to verify the seller’s authenticity first before making any purchases as I have also heard many stories about frauds and scams, but I shall leave that story for another day.