KUALA LUMPUR: Traders, taxi drivers and hoteliers in and around Petaling Street and Bukit Bintang here are having sleepless nights with the planned red-shirt rally approaching fast.
Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association chairman Datuk Ang Say Tee said about 90% of the traders in Petaling Street or Chinatown would not open for business next Wednesday – Malaysia Day – when the rally is set to take place.
Traders in Bukit Bintang are expecting a plunge in business though they have yet to decide whether to stay open or not.
Hotels have started receiving room cancellations.
Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu, dubbed the red shirt rally and organised by the National Silat Federation, is expected to draw participants from various Malay non-governmental organisations nationwide.
The 12-hour rally is also seen as a counter to the Aug 29 and 30 Bersih 4 rally, which saw participants donning yellow T-shirts.
Chiew Kim Huat, 64, who has been trading in Petaling Street for over 50 years, said he would close shop for the day to avoid trouble.
“I will definitely suffer losses. We are already seeing fewer tourists and less business nowadays,” he lamented, describing the red shirt rally as a nuisance.
A glasses trader who only wanted to be known as Lim said there was no point opening for business that day as the planned rally had already scared away his customers.
Rajan, 41, who sells bags and wallets agreed with Lim, describing the rally as another dampener on the already slowing economy.
Trader Faizal Abdul Rahim, 30, said: “Business has dropped by almost 60% this year and the rally will worsen the situation.
Taxi driver Zulkifli Rahmat, 50, said: “I ply this city route and many tourists board my taxi to the airport, the KL Bird Park and KLCC.
“Who is going to pay for my loss of income for that day?”
A check at the front office at Federal Hotel, just a stone’s throw away from Low Yat Plaza, showed that there were some room cancellations.
In Low Yat Plaza, Oppo outlet sales promoter Kenneth Heng, 24, said business had dropped by 30% since the July brawl at the mall and the upcoming rally would worsen the situation.
Dell Concept Store manager Izmir Walid, 35, said his sales had plunged by 40% since the brawl and hoped the authorities could stop the rally.
At Pudu Sentral, kiosk owner Muhd Razali Abdul Hamid, 45, said: “I do not want it (rally) to happen.”
Fellow trader Faizal Bashir, 33, described the rally as a shame.