KUANTAN: At long last, Kuantan, being the administrative town of Pahang, boasts a spacious and upmarket shopping complex to match those in the Klang Valley.
It's called East Coast Mall and is located at a prime location in the town centre.
One of its anchor tenants, Carrefour, opened its doors to the public a week before the mall's official launch. A huge crowd was seen making a beeline for the hypermarket.
What greeted shoppers there was something beyond comprehension.
The smell of paint and thinner was everywhere, as contract workers rushed to complete their jobs.
A colleague who visited the mall during the hypermarkets launch made an important observation.
His question was: Will the mall be ready within a week for the grand opening?
He was right, as it was not.
In fact, more than a week after it was officially opened, there were many defects.
The basement car park was flooded, and at some ends, car owners parked haphazardly.
Some food operators were waiting for tables and chairs, which were not enough to welcome customers.
Washrooms were the worst. There was running water but no soap and toilet paper.
To make matters worse, some toilet bowls were clogged.
Another apparent problem was the floor tiles, which were slippery when wet.
If one expected to see decorative items on display, there was none except for a few rattan stars hanging in the concourse.
Shortcomings aside, the East Coast Mall management must be commended for bringing in branded merchandise outlets and eateries previously unheard of in Kuantan.
Big Apple Donuts and Coffee, for instance, was splendid.
Theres also Sushi King, Johnnys Restaurant (specialising in Thai steamboat) and Laksa Shack.
Probably, the opening date was an auspicious pick by the mall's management, but as a layman, one cannot help but wonder why the rush?
Isnt it more sensible to open the mall when everything inside is completed and in tip-top condition?
The inflation rate is not likely to come down soon, but theres no worry of missing the boat as the people will still need to shop and eat.
In this regard, the state should be lauded for approving the project dubbed Putra Square.
There is more to come as the package includes four townships, namely Malay, Chinese, Indian and Construction, in addition to office blocks, a convention hall and a hotel all under construction.
Earlier, state executive councillor Datuk Hoh Khai Mun revealed there were worries that the emergence of hypermarkets would kill local supermarket chains and sundry shops.
Alas, common sense prevails as economic growth and job opportunities outweigh other concerns.
Businessmen have the right to make profits from their investments, but the people should not be taken for granted.
Like a housing project, all facilities should be in place before purchasers move in and call it a home.
Kuantan folks are entitled to a decent shopping environment, free of air and sound pollution, to spend their hard-earned money.
Lets hope for improvements in terms of facilities for all the parties and an upmarket mall which folks here can be proud of.