Traders and taxi drivers lament losses due to Nov 10 rally

November 17, 2007 (The Star)
KUALA LUMPUR: On weekends and public holidays, Beh Hock Heng’s dim sum restaurant on Jalan Alor is always packed but last Saturday’s illegal gathering caused him to lose thousands of ringgit as customers stayed away.

The 65-year-old owner is furious, saying some customers could not come because of the massive traffic jam while others chose to stay indoors.
“Even tourists, who often frequent my restaurant from the nearby hotels, refused to come out as they feared for their safety because of the demonstration,” he said.
Beh was among a group of businessmen and representatives from 80 non-governmental organisations who attended a press conference yesterday in protest against the gathering.
The NGOs included the Kuala Lumpur Taxi Drivers Association, Federation of Malaysia Entertainment Associations, Jalan Alor Hawkers Association and Rukun Tetangga Pudu.
Holding up placards, written in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese and Tamil, the group complained that their businesses had been affected by the gathering.
Taxi operator Leong Aw said taxi drivers lost much business because of the illegal gathering, saying it drove tourists away when they saw thousands of demonstrators in the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
“The Government is promoting Visit Malaysia 2007 which will help us make money, especially during this festive season. Such a gathering is not part of the Malaysian culture,” he said.
Bukit Bintang MCA division chairman Datuk Dr Lee Chong Meng said he was informed by hoteliers that many tour groups, especially from China, had cancelled their visit because of media reports on the protest.
“We hope there will be no more protests because in the run-up to Hari Raya Haji, Christmas and Chinese New Year, a lot of activities are being planned in Bukit Bintang. We cannot afford to suffer any more losses,” he said.