Wednesday, July 17, 2013

1,000 Indian traders stage nationwide protests

Indian traders protesting against illegal foreign traders in Little India, Brickfields yesterday. Similar protests were held in other states.

More than 1,000 Malaysian Indian traders from various business associations staged a nationwide protest yesterday against illegal business operations run by foreign traders in the country.

The protest took place in Jalan Tengku Kelana here, Little India Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Sungai Petani, Penang, Malacca and Johor Baru.

More than 600 shops, ranging from textiles and garments, jewellery, florists, restaurants and mini-markets including Mydin Wholesale Emporium Tengku Kelana were closed.

Malaysian Indian Textiles and General Stores Association secretary Maheswary Ramasamy said for the past five years they had sent several memorandums to the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism as well as the Prime Minister's Department.

However, to date no action had been taken to resolve this issue, she said.

She said illegal foreign business was affecting the local traders, especially at carnivals organised by event management companies.

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"This is the first time we have staged a protest in Jalan Tengku Kelana," she added.

In the past, local traders never had any problems, but today more of them were moving out because of bankruptcy, she said, adding that they had to bear losses of about RM20 million.

She also said more illegal businesses were being run by foreigners because a number of local traders were renting out their business permits to them.

Many Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Pakistanis run stalls under a local trader's name, she said

She added that these traders who rented out their permits were to be blamed.

"It is because of them that we are suffering," she said, adding that their businesses would return to normal today.

In Brickfields, about 100 shops along Jalan Tun Sambanthan were closed.

Senator Datuk V. Subramaniam, who was present at the protest, said many business in Little India were at risk of losing their customers due to the trade fairs and carnivals.

He said the fairs were meant to be participated by manufacturers from countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but were now doing retail sales to local customers.

"I am going to bring the matter to parliament next week, and will not stop until the authorities seriously take up the matter."

Malaysian Indian Textiles and General Stores Association (MITA) president R. Moorthy Ramasamy said they were determined to put a stop to illegal trades to save the local Indian traders from becoming bankrupt.

In George Town, all 140 Indian traders in Little India here closed their shops in solidarity yesterday in protest against the participation of foreign traders in the upcoming Penang Global Indian Festival 2013.

Claiming they suffered losses of up to RM10 million to foreign traders in a similar shopping carnival last year, they demanded Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng stop foreigners from taking part in the five-day event, which begins Aug 7.

A spokesman for the Little India traders, N. Vasantharajan, said the shopping carnival, similar to those held during the Deepavali and Hari Raya Aidilfitri, would badly affect the livelihood of many local Indian businessmen.

In Ipoh, Indian business owners shut their outlets for the whole day yesterday to protest against foreigners whose activities they claimed had affected their business.

Textile trader B. Ravi Sankar, who spoke on behalf of his fellow businessmen, said they paid Customs duties of 32 per cent on imported goods including textiles.

"On top of that we pay quit rent, assessment rates, income tax and other payments to the government authorities.

"We cannot compete with the illegal traders who do not pay any taxes to the government."

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