Support thriving small and medium-sized businesses

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Thosai, a popular dish in Indian restaurants in Malaysia, is often cooked by migrant workers - Photograph: Wikipedia

In challenging economic times, we must encourage and motivate our thriving businesspersons, writes Benedict Lopez

Last Sunday, as usual after church service, I headed to my regular Indian restaurant in Lucky Gardens, Bangsar for breakfast.

Much to my disappointment the place was closed. A notice in front read that, effective 2 January 2020, the operating hours of the restaurant would be from 11am to 11pm.

I was surprised that a thriving restaurant, whose normal operating hours previously were from 7am to midnight, had reduced its hours of business, much to the chagrin of many of its regular patrons like me.  

The following day, I spoke to the son of the owner who explained to me that the change in operating hours was due to a shortage of workers. Apparently, the restaurant is facing difficulty in obtaining approval to recruit foreign workers. 

Many restaurants in Kuala Lumpur depend on migrant workers as many Malaysian workers are just not interested in working in these restaurants. So many Malaysian restaurant owners turn to foreign workers.

Over 90% of business establishments in the country are small and medium-sized business enterprises like this restaurant, and they contribute to the economy of our country through their forward and backward linkages. It does great disservice to our country if hardworking entrepreneurs like this restaurant owner are forced to shorten their operating hours because they are unable to recruit foreign workers.

This restaurant is patronised by Malaysians of all walks of life who enjoy the delicious spread served. More importantly, it is an affordable place for ordinary Malaysians like me.

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I sent a text to our Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadhil regarding this matter. Hopefully, he will be able to assist the restaurant in resolving this issue.

In challenging economic times, we must encourage and motivate our thriving businesspersons. In turn, the government too will benefit from the success of their enterprises through the taxes paid by these businesses.    

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. An eternal optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits and privileges found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one that he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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Aaron Shui
Aaron Shui
12 Jan 2020 2.24pm

Malaysian not interested? Or owners prefer cheap (and obedient?) labour?