Retailers protest local councils charging businesses for advertising signs inside own premises

Malaysia Shopping Malls Association president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya May 29, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Malaysia Shopping Malls Association president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya May 29, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PETALING JAYA, May 29 — Retailer groups, frustrated at being charged for signage within their premises by local authorities, want the government to look into current licensing and advertising laws.

They argue that signages and logos within business premises are there to help the consumer find the product rather than being a promotional tool.

What’s more, these signages are not visible to those who are outside the shops.

“It is essential that each brand displays its name for identification purposes and if internal fees are required it will result in additional costs of doing business,” said president of the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok during a press conference with nine other agencies at One World Hotel in Petaling Jaya today.

Lately local authorities have been frequenting retailers and charging them for logos and signages of brands inside their own premises.

Teo said the standard fee being charged by the local councils are around RM100 per square metre.

“In a department store if you have 125 brands with four signages each then you end up paying RM50,000. If you then have 50 branches throughout the nation it now becomes RM2.5 million,” Teo said.

Malaysian Retailers Association (MRA) president James Loke speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya May 29, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Malaysian Retailers Association (MRA) president James Loke speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya May 29, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

Malaysian Retailers Association president James Loke said the councils are even charging them for logos on directional signages which he felt was impractical.

“Even the logos on the buntings and near the escalators and lifts are chargeable,” said Loke.

“If we have to pay an additional cost, it must make sense. This doesn’t as the siganges are merely a tool within the premises. It’s counterproductive and adds to the cost of doing business. I mean even the logos on the cash register they want to charge us.”

Malaysian Garments Marketeers Association (MGMA) president President Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya May 29, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Malaysian Garments Marketeers Association (MGMA) president President Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya May 29, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

Malaysian Garment Marketers Association chairman Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh felt these local councils are trying to improve their Key Performance Index (KPI) and using these additional charges to generate revenue.

“The charges for signages and advertising inside are being used by the local councils as a revenue generating scheme under their ‘advertising by-laws’,” he said.

“This is wrong as businesses are always trying to reduce their costs so the consumers can benefit from it. If the government doesn’t help by intervening here, then eventually all these costs will be transferred onto the consumer.

“It could be part of their KPI as well and though it’s only prevalent in Selangor now, soon it could spread to other states.”

Bumiputra Retailers Organisation (BRO) president Datuk Wira Ameer Ali Mydin speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya May 29, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Bumiputra Retailers Organisation (BRO) president Datuk Wira Ameer Ali Mydin speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya May 29, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

President of Bumiputera Retailers Association Datuk Wira Ameer Ali Mydin said if there are no proper guidelines in place it could lead to corruption and bribery.

“We don’t want to encourage underhanded business,” said Ameer.

“Take for example an enforcement officer comes to Mydin and sees 20 signages that they feel needs to be charged. However, after some discussion said officer reduces the payment to just two signages based on negotiations and perhaps the mood of the person at the time.

“For big businesses paying for two signages can be done easily but what if these enforcers start visiting smaller businesses? If these small businesses then ask the officer if they can ‘settle’ the matter outside of the law then it will encourage bribery,” said Ameer alluding to how Malaysians often try to bribe their way out of paying fines. 

With the current economic climate in Malaysia uncertain at best, Teo is asking the government for some leniency and clarity and put a stop to this type of enforcement till proper guidelines can be implemented.

“We earnestly hope the authorities will realise there is a need to balance out industry interests versus unproductive regulatory procedures,” said Teo.

“If the rule makes sense, we will gladly abide by it but now it doesn’t. It’s become detrimental at a time when we’re trying to build a more robust retail and shopping economy.

“We implore the government to please include us in future discussions pertaining to this matter.”

Apart from the association already mentioned, the press conference was also attended by representatives from the National Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia, the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, Malaysia Franchise Association and Malaysian Footwear Manufacturers Association, with one absentee from Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Associations of Malaysia.

They are sending a letter to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government today as well.

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