Why is the Sabah government allowing newly-arriving Pakistani traders so much leeway while squeezing local businessmen?
KOTA KINABALU: The Consumer Affairs and Protection Association of Sabah (CAPS) wants the Sabah state government to explain how a burgeoning number of newly-arrived Pakistanis have been allowed to literally set up shop around the state.
CAPS’ deputy treasurer, Donny Yapp, said it was now quite easy to find Pakistani shopkeepers all around the city and its immediate outskirts.
He said CAPS had since last year been receiving reports and complaints both from consumers and local retailers that more and more foreigners, especially Pakistanis, had been given a free-hand to run groceries in many places that local retailers would normally have problem setting up business.
“CAPS had since then started conducting survey and calling eyewitnesses and to our shock there were indeed many such retail shops operated by even newly-arrived Pakistanis mushrooming in many districts including within Kota Kinabalu outskirts like Likas, Sembulan, and in Penampang, Putatan, Petagas, Likas and also in other districts too like Papar and Kota Belud.
“What astonished us was that many of these Pakistanis were given leeway in starting their retail businesses in many styles that the local authorities would normally clamp down on if they were managed by locals,” Yapp said here.
He said that among the illegal operations that the local authorities seemed to be turning a blind eye were illegal extension to existing houses, taking over dilapidated small huts along the roads and then within weeks turning them into a full-fledged retail shops.
“Some others were allowed by local authorities to just erect their own building outside of apartments areas, sometimes sticking right onto a fence of the apartment or in other cases right below power lines.
“When the relevant authorities follow up complaints, these Pakistani retail operators seem to be able to quickly do the necessary to waive any further action and that is the end of the complaints,” Yapp said.
Lots of complaints
He said many of the complaints to CAPS were from local retailers who questioned the state government’s special treatment of these new-arrivals, while its enforcement had always been strict with local tuck-shops operators.
“We are raising this because their complaints are genuine and affecting bona fide Sabahans,” he said.
CAPS is planning to make a formal representation to the government on the matter to be resolved in the best interests of the consumers.
“While it is good to give alternatives to consumers we must ensure that we regulate groceries operated by foreigners.
State assembly representative for Pantai Manis, Abdul Rahim Ismail, also raised the matter at the last assembly sitting.