KOTA KINABALU, January 3, 2019: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has questioned the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) over the justification of imposing a drastic hike (of 100%) on the rental of pedestrian five-foot way and open space that were occupied by business premises, with effective from 1 January, 2019.
“Just when the business operators were already feeling the pinch of the ongoing economic slumps, they are now being slapped with doubled up the rental by the DBKK, from the original RM6 per square foot (sq. ft.) to RM12 per sq. ft., when they utilising the pedestrian five-foot way and open space for business.
“Is such a drastic hike justified? Is this how the Warisan-led State government reward the people, or showing their gratitude to the people, for voting them into power during the last general election?” enquired SAPP vice president Gee Tien Siong in a statement issued today.
He was responding to complaints received from affected business operators in the city, who expressed their dissatisfaction over such an abrupt-and-drastic move by DBKK.
“DBKK didn’t even have the courtesy to notify the shop owners or operators of such a move in writing, in advance. Many of them were caught by surprise when they went to renew their permit for the use of five-foot way or open space, for the whole year, which they had to pay in advance. Some of them lamented to me that they felt like they were robbed in the broad daylight,” said Gee.
The disgruntled business operators also reminded that a majority of the people had voted for Pakatan Harapan and its ally Parti Warisan Sabah in the last general elections, with the high hope of turning things around, from bad to good.
“Unfortunately, seven months had passed since Pakatan Harapan and Warisan formed the Federal and the State governments, things are just not getting better but worse than before. Besides the series of fiascos in delivering their election promises, their economic approaches had proven to be unsatisfactory. Until today, the value of ringgit keeps falling thus causing all and sundry to suffer high inflation,” Gee lamented.
He contended that both the Pakatan Harapan led Federal government and the Warisan led State government should strive to improve the economy of the country and the state, by introducing innovative-and-dynamic economic policies which would rejuvenate the market, instead of recklessly implementing some ‘short-sighted’ and ‘counterproductive’ policies which would only further devastate the already fragile economy, such as hiking the rental of the open space and five-foot way occupied by the business operators.
Gee, who himself is a seasoned businessman of fast-moving consumer product, said the introduction of such a ‘mindless-and-detrimental’ move not only reflected badly on the capability of the City Mayor, but also his group of advisors, the Assistant Minister in charge of DBKK, and the entire State Cabinet.
“How could the group of DBKK advisors and the Assistant Minister in charge of it allowed the Mayor to come out with such a discouraging move without taking into serious consideration of its far-reaching impact on the entire market? What were they thinking? Did they ever consult a truly-qualified-and-reliable economist in the state on such a move?” he questioned.
It was reliably learnt that the said move was introduced by the former Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, just before his term expired, recently.
Gee cautioned that with the current unfavourable economic situation, such a drastic move would only set to discourage business operators from expanding their business or, even compel them to downsize, so as to cut cost to stay afloat. This would essentially translate into loss of business and revenues, and the government would end up collecting lesser tax.
“And when the business operators opt to downsize, or worse, to cease operations, it would result in loss of jobs and lesser employment opportunities. The people’s spending power will be badly affected, and likewise the entire market. This would be a potent ingredient for a vicious cycle that would entail a host of social ills, as the people would be desperate to make ends meet, by hook or by crook.
“Business operators in Kota Kinabalu are fortunate that currently there are still some China tourists coming in, although their number has been reportedly on the decline, in the last few months. But, there’s no guarantee that thing would not go south, as anything can happen, and this is where our policy makers must always be mindful of when introducing certain new policies, so that we would not be in a fix, when something bad happens,” he elaborated.
He thus called upon the present Mayor Datuk Nordin Siman to seriously review the said move, and to introduce policies which are more ‘business-friendly’, so as to transform Kota Kinabalu into a vibrant city.
“To begin with, he should strive to enlist professionals who are truly qualified and capable to advise him, and not just some political appointees who lacked the required qualifications and experience in city planning and management,” he concluded.