Life goes on in Penang despite looming polls

Making up for lost time: Guests checking in at The Granite Luxury Hotel in George Town. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Despite the 15th General Election (GE15), many people here are going ahead with their planned wedding dates and also making preparations to travel.

One of them is Jasmon Lim, 39, who will not change his wedding day on Nov 11.

His buddies are ready to cheer him on when he walks out of the church with his wife.

They had already taken a week off to return to Penang to throw Lim a bachelor party.

“If I have to wear my tuxedo to the polls, so be it. Everything is booked and arranged for my wedding day on Nov 11 and I am not going to change it.

“As soon as I heard about the dissolution of Parliament, I started detailing safety, transport and logistics arrangements.

“What do I do if my wedding day is during the campaigning period? What do I do if my wedding day falls on a polling week?

“I started reviewing every detail,” said Lim, who is the operations director for PKT Logistics’ northern region.

He added that “we’d be crazy enough to wear our wedding outfits to the polls if we have no other choice”.

Previous polling days tended to fall on weekends but in 2018, it was held on May 9, a Wednesday.

A check with local hotels and event venues showed that Penang can expect wedding bells to toll almost every weekend, on top of large birthday bashes and corporate parties, throughout November and December.

“Some are holding their events on weekdays as our weekends are fully booked.

“Slots are fully booked till mid-January and we expect celebrations to continue until after Chinese New Year,” said Catherine Ooi, sales and marketing director of The Skye, an events space with a capacity for over 200 people.

The Granite Luxury Hotel general manager Moh Wei Ken said his hotel had seen up to an 80% occupancy rate on weekends and he expected this to remain till year-end.

“There is an overwhelming increase in people wanting to make up for time and experiences lost to the pandemic.

“In the first week of December, we have a large corporate group coming to launch their company.

“They are taking up half of our 152 hotel rooms and suites,” he said.

Chairman of the Penang Koo Soo Kwong Choon Tong Restaurant and Tea Shop Association Vinah Yee said there was a mad dash to prepare for and secure dinner banquet slots.

“Wedding dinners are booked at least half a year ahead, but some bookings are made almost last minute to get their banquets done by this year,” she said.

Yee said many companies were also expected to host their year-end celebrations, but bookings had yet to be made.

“We believe many companies would like to hold dinners to thank their staff for staying through the pandemic,” she added.

Malaysian Association of Hotels Penang chapter chairman Tony Goh said the business forecast for hotels this year-end “would be great”.

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