Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The abysmal failures of LowYat2

Bangi MP visits Mara Digital Mall, says Ismail Sabri project failed

Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming is calling for new models of Bumiputera Economic Empowerment (BEE) after visiting the Mara Digital Mall and deeming it a clear failure.

"I visited the Mara Digital Mall at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur recently, on a Monday afternoon during lunch hour, to see for myself the business activity at the retail outlets.

"This digital mall was originally initiated to rival the digital and IT offerings of Low Yat Plaza back in 2015 by the then Minister for Rural Development and now Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

"Six years later, this government-sponsored initiative has clearly failed its original intentions," said Ong in a statement today.

He said the ground floor of the mall, usually prime space for exhibitors to display their digital and IT products, sits empty.

"All the retail stores on the ground floor are selling Food & Beverage (F&B) products, mostly to the employees of Mara Corporation and the government agencies which have their offices there.

"Some of the retail outlets have been converted or rented out to retailers selling non-IT products including stores selling fashion products, a DIY store, and a hair salon which also offers massage/facial/manicure/eye treatment services."

Don't repeat past mistakes

Ong said the main reason for his visit was Ismail Sabri’s Nov 18 announcement for proposed quotas for bumiputera-owned businesses in strategic locations such as shopping malls to increase the community’s participation in the economy.

This was proposed as part of the Bumiputera Development Action 2030 (TPB2030) that sits under the Bumiputera Prosperity Council (MKB), which is chaired by the prime minister.

Ong said this move reminded him of the phrase - “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

"On the anniversary of the 50th year since the start of the New Economic Policy (NEP), it seems that many of our leaders have not learned from the mistakes of the past and seem keen to repeat these mistakes repeatedly in coming up with 'new' government policies that are supposed to help the bumiputera community in various economic sectors.

"Please do not misunderstand my intentions here.

"I very much want the bumiputera community to succeed in business and to have access to job and economic opportunities in the same way that some other communities and business groups have succeeded.

"But the underlying business proposal must be sustainable, resilient to market competition, and able to foster innovation and creativity," he said.

He highlighted that Mara digital malls were suffering losses even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Articles before the start of the pandemic were already reporting the challenges which these malls were facing including the flagship mall at Mara Corporation in Kuala Lumpur.

Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming

"Mara Digital Kuantan closed in December 2018 and Mara Digital Johor Bahru closed in February 2019.

"I don’t think the lack of success of these digital malls was because bumiputera businesses cannot succeed in certain areas such as IT and digital retail. The main reason for their failures is that the underlying business concept was flawed from the beginning," he said.

Poor models

Ong said that by positioning itself as a digital mall for bumiputera retailers only, the concept inevitably discouraged non-bumiputera customers and even foreign tourists from patronising these outlets.

"Since the non-bumiputera community and foreign tourists in large cities have significant spending power, this business strategy unnecessarily alienates these potential customers," he added.

He said another factor was that many of the retailers at Mara Digital malls had to depend on a single distributor - WGN Scan Sdn Bhd - which made prices uncompetitive.

Finally, said Ong, it was very difficult to prevent political interference and rent-seeking activities in such business initiatives once the government is involved in its conception and execution.

"Different people will try to have their 'hand in the pie' for short-term gain which decreases the financial sustainability of these initiatives in the long run.

"A limited number of well-connected people gain but ironically, not the bumiputera traders and retailers, which is the community that the government wants to help through these empowerment programmes," said the DAP man.

Citing Farm Fresh milk and AIl IT hypermarket, he said there were many examples of successful partnerships involving both bumiputera and non-bumiputera entrepreneurs in the country.

This, he said, is especially in the technology sector where innovation and capabilities are recognised and rewarded and where execution is key, regardless of the ethnic background of the entrepreneurs.

He said a more sustainable and inclusive business model is where a non-Malay privately held company can provide good quality jobs to all Malaysians including a significant number of Malays in an environment that is professional and pleasant to work in and where the customer satisfaction, and presumably employee satisfaction, is high.

1 comment:

  1. The failure of Low Yat2 is the reflection of the general bumiputra policy ie NEP.

    Loy Yat2 without a clear plan. And typical of kerajaan allah, there is a monopoly in play. And true to its character, the renters at Low Yat2 resorted to an easy solution when things got tough - convert the shops to the usual offerings ie food and beverage, clothes and other mundane stuff.

    What Low Yat2 was originally for was thrown out the window.

    Something similar with the NEP,isn't it?

    And now the racist PM Sabri w.ants to implement his Bumiputera Development Action 2030.

    Whatever name is given, it is a continuation of the NEP in other forms!!