JOHOR BARU: Currently, there is no law in Malaysia which prevents hypermarket operators from opening their outlets in the interior areas of the country.
Johor Consumerism, Human Resources and Unity Committee chairman Dr S. Ramakrishnan said legally, the government could not do anything to stop them from doing that.
“Malaysia practices free economy and we can only impose the ruling if we have laws preventing hypermarket operators from opening their outlets in those areas,’’ he said.
Ramakrishan was asked to comment on a statement made by Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail that the government would not allow hypermarkets to operate in interior areas.
The minister said this when winding up the debate at the Budget 2019 for the state assembly on Nov 27.
Ramakrishnan said the operators would not go big in terms of physical set up of the building when opening outlets in such areas, unlike those in urban areas.
He said instead of opening a standalone hypermarket, another option was to open a convenience store similar to the traditional sundry shop but with a modern setting.
Ramakrishnan advised traditional sundry shop owners to think outside of the box in order for them to survive and compete with the big boys.
Johor Consumers Movement Association chairman Md Salleh Sadijo said the government should reverse the decision as the economic benefits far outweigh the drawbacks by allowing hypermarkets to exist in these areas.
“It will create job opportunities and enhance the snowball effect of the economy in that particular area.
"It will offer multiple consumer products at lower prices because hypermarkets buy them in bulk and the benefits could be passed on to consumers,’’ he said.
Salleh said the effect was negligible because not many people were in the business of running sundry shops and consumers would also have a wide range of products to choose from.
Johor Indian Business Association (Jiba) president P. Sivakumar urged the government to go after foreigners running petty trades instead of worrying about hypermarkets opening in remote areas.
“Go to any big or small towns in the country, you will see shops owned by these foreigners,’’ he said.
Sivakumar said this has been ongoing for many years and no action had been taken by the relevant agencies despite complaints lodged by local business associations.
He said many of these foreigners married local women and used their wife’s name to apply for a business licence from the local council to open shops.