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‘Malay businessmen want guarantees’

 | June 11, 2012

The Malay Chamber of Commerce wants Malay businesses in Bukit Bintang Plaza to be given premium areas of the mall after redevelopment.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malay Chamber of Commerce said today it will leave it to the “wisdom” of Putrajaya to solve the problems facing Bumiputera businesses in the move to redevelop Bukit Bintang Plaza for the new city rail link.

Uda Holdings Bhd claimed last week MRT Corp’s plan to connect an underground train station with the mall would jeopardise Malay businesses there.

The chamber’s secretary-general Hanafee Yusoff said although they would expect no less than a guarantee from MRT Corp that Malay businesses would not be affected by the project, it was ultimately up to the government to rectify the situation.

“We leave it to the wisdom and discretion of the government but we do hope that it (the project) does not affect Malay businesses there and enhance the value of their assets,” he told a press conference here.

An online news portal quoted a source as saying the city train project owner would first take over the frontage of BBP and the adjoining Yayasan Selangor building.

It will later move on to their basements to construct the underground station and all mall occupants would have to clear out by mid next year, the source had added.

Bukit Bintang Plaza, owned by Uda Holdings, houses a majority of Malay businesses in the city’s iconic “golden triangle” shopping district while Chinese businessmen run their companies in the adjoining Sungei Wang Plaza.

UDA Holdings chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed had said that it would will not oppose the project but warned that this would place the Bumiputera agenda at risk.

This could also be a setback to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s ongoing plans to recapture the city’s Malay support.

But MRT Corp CEO Azhar Abdul Hamid dismissed the suggestion and claimed the project would instead pave way to redevelop the 1970s-built mall, boost Bumiputera businesses and shed its heavy reliance of relying on “cheap rental”.

He added the redevelopment of BBP could potentially become the new “icon” of the Bukit Bintang shopping district and help Bumiputera businesses become entrepreneurs.

Hanafee said the Malay chamber was willing to engage both Uda Holdings and MRT Corp to help provide a solution.

One of the ways to solve the issue was to provide Malay businesses there premium plots within the shopping mall.

“If it is possible, we want Malay traders sitting in premium areas. We do not want to be known as third-class businessmen anymore,” he said.

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