Entertainment centres cannot pay up debt, fear closing down

ONE of Klang Valley’s biggest alcohol distributors, HRZ Beverages Sdn Bhd, says the entertainment sector is so badly affected that hundreds of businesses have folded and hundreds more are on the verge of closing down.

Its general manager Chang Sze Hou said over 200 restaurants, bars, karaoke joints and dance clubs in Kuala Lumpur have shut down permanently.

Many are being hounded by suppliers, landlords and debt collectors seeking payment for goods delivered and rental fees.

“Personally my bad debt is increasing. I have to pay my creditors but many of my debtors are unable to pay me.

“Those who agreed to pay by instalment are unable to do so with the conditional movement control order back in place, ” he said.

Chang said it was shocking the way the entertainment sector had been left by the wayside despite it being “one of the highest taxpayers in the country, generating revenue and providing thousands of jobs.”

He urged the government to do something soon to save the industry.

The nightclub operators and bars had in July proposed a set of strict standard operating procedures (SOP) that took into account the guidelines put forward by Health Ministry and the National Security Council, but said they had yet to receive feedback from the government.

Klang Valley Pub, Night Club and Bar Association pro-tem committee chairman Benny Bedi said a memorandum on the matter had also been sent to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa months ago.

There had been no feedback on the group’s request, said Benny.

It has now been almost eight months since the MCO was first implemented on March 18 with nightclubs and bars not being allowed to operate.

Benny said the proposed SOP was meticulously put together by the association members.

“It includes reducing crowd capacity by 50% and cutting down operating hours to only six hours, starting from 6pm.

“We also banned any form of live entertainment. Live band as well as any form of singing and dancing are not allowed in the premises, ” he said.

On top of that, operators will

be required to ensure the cleanliness of the outlets as well as their employees’ personal hygiene, to record personal details and body temperature of both employees and customers daily.

“We received the commitment from everyone to go above and beyond to do this right, by also ensuring that only a limited number of customers is allowed inside the premises at a time, to ensure that tables and chairs are disinfected after every customer leaves and before a new group comes in, and to wipe down public spaces.

“Everything one could think of was proposed in the SOP for this sector that we sent to the government, so it was very disheartening that no one came back to us on our request, ” Benny added.

It was reported that there were about 6,600 operators nationwide, with 3,300 solely operating as nightclubs with bars.

The association estimated in July that 20% had gone bankrupt, while 50% of workers or about 30,000 people in the sector would become jobless unless the government eased up on restrictions.

Operators had lost a whopping RM500mil in 60 days since the MCO was implemented.

Benny said that figure could reach RM1.8bil by the end of the year if measures were not taken soon.

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