At Umno assembly, urban and rural traders sell their wares

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 ― They may sell the same products but for two traders, the urban and rural gulf means a world of differences set them apart.

For clothes and fabric dealer Shamsuddin Zakaria, 57, the seven-hour journey to KL from Kota Bharu, Kelantan for Umno’s annual general meeting (AGM) has become almost ritualistic. He began selling his items at the Putra World Trade Centre in 1992.

“My wife Rahani Mat Yusuf, 55, has been my constant companion all these years. When they were old enough we brought our children along as well,” he told the Malay Mail at his stall on the centre’s third floor.

Surrounded by ornate kain sampings and headscarves, Shamsuddin said much has changed in the past 25 years since he set up shop at PWTC.

“Back then we used to be on the first floor, with only a simple plywood table to sell our goods. Now we have our own stall, making it much easier and less cluttered,” he said.

Although Shamsuddin was reluctant to say how much he pays for the stall’s rental space, he said he could at make at least RM7,000 nett in profit at the AGM every year.

“God be praised, the income from the AGM is sufficient to pay for everything, including some of my debts. As long as Umno conducts the AGM every year, then I’ll be here,” he said.

In contrast fellow dealer Zeti Asman, 42, has no qualms about revealing how much her stall’s rental fee is.

“I paid RM6,000 this year, whereas I paid half that value when I first set up my stall at the AGM in 2007,” she said.

Perhaps it is due to her location, as Zeti’s stall is right next to the main entrance of the open space near the outside lobby. She says competition for the best spots has becoming increasingly stiff in the past decade.

“I have been using the same spot all this while. It would be crazy for me to give it up considering how much I make,” she said, adding she rakes in on average RM15,000 in nett profit every year.

“But it has not always been consistent, mind you. There were years when I would end up losing at least RM5,000, or when the average profit remains unchanged from one year to another,

“Nonetheless I am thankful I can still earn a living. My shop around Jalan Masjid India has been very fortunate as others close down around us due to the tough economic situation,” Zeti said.

Aided by her husband, siblings and employees, Zeti said there are small blessings in life at times which makes her effort to set up the stall worthwhile.

“Not long after the Prime Minister came up with 1Malaysia in 2010, I came up with the idea of selling my goods in 1Malaysia boxes. The reception at that year’s AGM was staggering. Hopefully I can come with something similar in the future,” she said.

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