Businesses tell Bersih to keep protest indoors

NST – 18 November, 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: After suffering losses in “many millions” of ringgit following last Saturday’s illegal demonstration, 80 non-governmental organisations have called on the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) to keep their agitation indoors. These NGOs represent businesses and petty traders in Bukit Bintang.

Senator Datuk Lee Chong Meng, who is the adviser to a slew of traders and businesses in the Bukit Bintang area, said last Saturday was a financial disaster for them.
“We don’t want any more demonstrations. It (last Saturday’s demonstration) had cost many millions in business to us in Bukit Bintang,” he said.
Lee declined to peg a figure to the losses, but said that the impact of the demonstrations was being felt by Bukit Bintang businesses.
“Tour operators are getting calls from their counterparts in China, Japan and Hong Kong on the situation in the country, while some have cancelled,” he said at a press conference attended by representatives from the 80 organisations.
Lee urged the demonstrators to emulate them and demonstrate indoors.
“At least you won’t cause traffic jams or frighten tourists and cause inconvenience to businesses,” he said of their gathering at the restaurant venue.
The demonstrations left the city motorists stuck in jams for hours and businesses in the vicinity had to close shop because of this.
Steven Yap, who is the adviser to the Entertainment Industry Association of the Federal Territory, said members’ businesses took a beating last Saturday.
“Many tourists elected to stay in their hotels.
“The demonstration may have been confined to a particular area, but its impact was felt everywhere,” he said.
Jalan Tiong Nam hawker association chairman Yong Chin Seng said members closed shop by 4pm, nine hours earlier than their normal operating hours.
“Many people could not get to Bukit Bintang because of the jams and many more refused to come later as they heard about the jams leading to the area.”
Yong said the real losers were hawkers like him who had to close shop and go home and lose money as food could not be sold.
Tan Hooi Weng, a businessman who runs a wholesale clothes business in Jalan Merlimau, lamented the impact on sales.
“We lost about a million in sales on that day as most of our customers come by during the weekend.
“I appeal to those behind the demonstrations not to do this again.”