THERE was a huge outcry by the Pasar Besar Jalan Othman traders over the rental hike by Petaling Jaya City Council last month.
Their monthly rental for the stalls used to be between RM80 and RM130 while the new rates are between RM200 and RM400.
Strangely, despite the low rental charges previously, the traders accumulated about RM71,000 in unpaid rental over the years.
Perhaps there was no urgency for the stall operators at the market to settle their rental arrears and they believed that no action would be taken against them, such as forfeiting trading lots.
The city council might have been empathetic towards those who could not settle their rental on time. But there has to be stricter enforcement from now on.
Most business owners renting private lots in Petaling Jaya will say the rental at Jalan Othman market is low.
Where else in the city can you get rental for about RM10 to RM14 a day with thousands of potential customers.
No one goes to window shop at a market, they are there to buy goods.
Let us not forget that this 40-year-old market has a large number of customers and some even tip the workers to carry their grocery load to their vehicles.
The market was built to serve the Petaling Jaya community in the past but over the years, it has turned into a wholesale market.
Traders buy their stock in bulk and also supply to restaurants.
Over the last few years, foreign workers were trading at the market as some locals had sublet their lots to them.
Now the market is said to be free of foreign workers at the stalls, thus this is an opportune time to allow Malaysians who genuinely want to trade at the market to do so.
There should be no subletting of the stalls. If caught, the guilty lot owners’ licence must be terminated.
The trading lots should be given to only Malaysians from the B40 group.
Traders at the market should not be allowed to pass on their business to their children or relatives.
If their family members are keen to trade at the market, they should apply for a licence and go through the tender procedure.
Also, those already enjoying good business at the market should consider moving to a private business location.
This will allow others especially the poor to start a business of their own at the wet market.
I have nothing against the foreign workers but it is time locals rethink how some businesses are managed in the market.
The second issue plaguing wet markets is employment.
It is time locals are paid fair wages and job opportunities are given to young Malaysians who are unemployed.
We have local graduates and workers who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order.
We have families that need an income yet unable to secure a job at the wet market as a general worker.
It is high time the city council review and reassess if the licence holders are the actual people operating at the market.
Perhaps they should consider providing a space for a flea market during weekends where locals could sell homemade food and drinks.
Let’s put an end to unethical business practices and support transparency.
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