Singaporeans still shopping in Malaysia, says retail group

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PETALING JAYA: Retailers in Johor Bahru and Melaka are continuing to receive customers from Singapore despite the current tension between the republic and Malaysia, according to the Malaysian Retailers Association.

The association’s president, James Loke, told FMT he believed “only a handful” of Singaporeans were cancelling their trips to Malaysia pending the settlement of disputes between the two countries over airspace and maritime boundaries.

He was commenting on a Sin Chew Daily report about groups of Singaporeans cancelling day tours to Johor for Chinese New Year shopping to avoid unexpected complications.

He said Malaysian retailers, particularly in Johor Bahru and Melaka, were seeing a good number of customers from Singapore, especially on weekends, and he attributed this to the competitive pricing of goods.

“If there are those who are not coming here to shop because of the Malaysia-Singapore tensions, I would say they make up only a handful,” he said.

“Even during the recent Christmas holidays, you could see a lot of Singaporean cars on the highway, heading towards Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands or nearby states.

“Yes, there may be some concern over the disputes, but the overall impact on business is minor.”

Ties between the two countries have taken a hit since last October, when Malaysia declared it was extending the limits of its Johor Bahru port into waters Singapore claims to be its own.

Singapore extended its own port limits on Dec 6.

Officials from the two countries have met in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

Malaysia and Singapore are also involved in a dispute over the use of airspace following the introduction of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) for Seletar Airport in Singapore.

Malaysia said the ILS encroaches into its airspace, prevents the construction of tall buildings in Pasir Gudang and subjects the Pasir Gudang Port to higher risks and multiple restrictions.