We need urgent rent aid or loans, eateries plea

PETALING JAYA: Restaurants and small coffeeshops hope the government can provide them with six months’ rental subsidies or interest-free loans to keep them afloat.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) and Malaysia Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors’ General Association (MSCPGA) said since their members have contributed to the government’s coffers in various forms of taxes, they hoped the government could reciprocate.

Presma president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said “mamak restaurant” owners were now in dire straits as some rents have reached up to RM35,000 a month in the cities.

He said unless the government steps in immediately to provide rental subsidies, he foresees many more resorting to ah long (illegal loan sharks) to stay afloat.

“We have zero savings left, company or personal, as the past 20 years of profit have all gone in trying to keep the business afloat in the past year, ” he added.

Jawahar Ali also appealed for the standard operating procedure for dine-ins be recalibrated according to table size.

“We appreciate the government allowing dining in, but it only brings in 20% of the business we lost, ” he said.

MSCPGA president Datuk Ho Su Mong said 600 more coffeeshops have closed down during MCO 2.0.

“While we welcome the dine-in for two which has given some of us a lifeline, without interest-free loans or rental subsidies, many of us will go bust.

“It is not easy for coffeeshops to apply for moratoriums as banks have their conditions.

“Hong Kong has given 75% rental subsidies for business owners. Please do not let us die as coffeeshops such as ours have been a part of Malaysian economy for tens of decades, ” pleaded Ho.

Restaurant owner Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub, who owns six outlets, said he had to close two of them due to the current movement control order.

He said prior to the pandemic, he used to pay RM100,000 in annual income taxes and a million more in sales and service taxes.

“I have spent all my 20 years of profit to keep my restaurants open the past one year. Delivery and takeaways only cover 25% of the business – not enough to even pay the rental.

“Many of my fellow restaurant owners have gone bankrupt, ” said Ayoob.

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