KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — Pawnshops around the country are reporting nothing unusual about the long queues of patrons seen leading to their premises.
It is business as usual, said Tan Ho Keng, president of the Malaysia Pawnbrokers Association (MPBA), adding that the patrons are only attending to matters outstanding since March 18 when the movement control order (MCO) came into force to contain Covid-19.
With the outlets reopening under the Conditional MCO (CMCO) after 47 days of inactivity, the patrons are back to redeem their pawned jewellery, make interest payments and extend the period of the mortgage, while a few pawned some items, he said.
Not everyone who goes to a pawnshop is mortgaging jewellery, just like not everyone who goes to an airport is taking a flight.
The CMCO permits pawnshops to reopen but for only five hours on their working days, from 9am to 2pm.
Tan explained the reason for the long queues.
“The number of patrons seemed huge yesterday because all of them were adhering to social distancing of staying one metre apart from one another. Only two patrons are allowed into the premises at any one time compared to 10 previously,” he told Bernama.
He said most of the patrons came to redeem their jewellery.
“Many of our clients wish to redeem their jewellery as Aidilfitri is approaching,” he said.
Tan gave the assurance that an automatic extension will be given for pawned items which reach the maturity date anytime between March 18 and May 12. The CMCO will be in force until May 12.
Bernama reporters visited pawnshops in several states to learn more.
At the Ar-Rahnu Islamic pawnshop in Gombak, Selangor, it was found that many of the patrons had come to extend the mortgage on their pawned jewellery.
Sharifah, 35, said she was unable to complete her business because of the short opening hours.
“I came to pay fee three months overdue for gold bangles. I thought the outlet will be open as usual, not just up to 2pm,” she said.
Many patrons in Kuala Terengganu were found to be redeeming their jewellery after having made i-Lestari withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). Others came to extend mortgages.
Nurul, 32, a private sector employee, said said the i-Lestari withdrawal has come in handy as additional cash to pay the instalment for the gold bangles she had pawned several months ago.
“I have to make instalment payments up to July and can then redeem my jewellery,” she said.
Plumber Mahmud, 44, a father of four, said he was grateful for the CMCO as it has enabled him to pawn some of his wife’s jewellery for cash to spend for Aidilfitri or he would have to borrow money from relatives.
“We may not be able to return to our kampung, but I want my wife and children to have a joyful raya,” he told Bernama.
In Ipoh, retired private sector employee Aziman, 65, said he had to queue up for more than an hour to redeem his wife’s gold chain that he had pawned before the MCO came into force.
A former hotel employee, Nurul Aini, 34, had used some of her savings to redeem bangles she wished to wear during the upcoming Aidilfitri.
Bibi Safura Ghulam Hydar, 56, owner of Kedai Emas Safura, said the outlet received many requests to mortgage jewellery during the MCO but did not entertain them for various reasons, including riba (usury), and bought the items at market price instead.
A check at several pawnshops in Johor Baru revealed that many patrons had come to extend the mortgage period.
Muhammad, 30, said he came to extend the mortgage because he did not want his jewellery to be auctioned off.
Accessory shop employee Shafinaz, 39, said she decided to pawn her jewellery because of the high price of gold so she could have cash in hand.
In Sungai Petani, Kedah, two pawnshops were seen to have many patrons, but most of them had come to redeem their jewellery.
This was confirmed by the owner of one of the outlets, who wished to be known as Lee (50).
“The price of gold has risen. Perhaps, they want to redeem their jewellery to sell,” he said.
In Melaka, a check at the pawnshops in the Kampung Jawa, Bukit Cina and Jonker Street areas revealed that many patrons came to extend the mortgage on their pawned jewellery.
Agnes Leow, 51, who has been managing the family pawnshop in Kampung Jawa for almost 30 years, said the outlet had made preparations early to facilitate customers.
Kavi, 44, said he had come to extend the mortgage on a gold chain for six more months. — Bernama