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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil today urged the government to allow night markets (pasar malam) to operate, as night market traders are among those who are struggling the most during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The PKR communications director said in a Facebook post that he had received multiple calls from night market traders who shared their discontent on the ruling that farmers’ markets (pasar tani) are allowed to operate, but not night markets.
In response, Fahmi also suggested several policy changes that could be introduced to help this group of traders.
“Throughout 2020, when the first movement control order (MCO) was implemented, followed by the conditional and recovery MCOs, many night market traders were affected as they could not trade. This year, with MCO 2.0 not necessarily over on February 4, they feel that the fate of night market traders may be dire.
“I have held several discussions with some of the night market associations, entrepreneurs and traders. In my opinion, the government can change the policy without loosening the existing SOPs,” he said.
Fahmi argued that if the reason for the inoperation of night markets is the number of patrons or traders, then the government should reimplement SOPs for night markets which were allowed to open during the CMCO — but with a reduced number of traders and restricted entry for the public.
“Night market operators and traders feel that they are being put aside because ‘farmers’ markets can, roadside vendors can, but night markets cannot’,” Fahmi said.
He added that if the government feels the reopening of night markets will result in many people being out of the house until midnight, then a change in timing could address this concern.
“There are operators who are willing to change the timing to the evening instead of night — for example, from 2pm to 7pm.
“They are willing to change from pasar malam to pasar petang (afternoon market). As long as they have a chance to trade,” Fahmi said.
He then suggested that traders with valid licences be included in the Wage Subsidy Programme 3.0 under the Permai Assistance Package (Permai) and ease the renewal process of said licences by doing it automatically, without additional cost.
Fahmi also urged the government to revisit last year’s Ramadan e-bazaar idea and restructure it to create an ‘e-night market’ project with the help of developers such as Foodpanda, Grab and Shopee.
“If the government is not willing to allow night markets to operate physically, at least try out an e-night market pilot project with the help of apps such as Foodpanda, Grab, Shopee and so on.
“This can be done either by creating a 'central kitchen' concept or revisiting the idea of last year's Ramadan e-bazaar with additional SOPs,” he said.
On January 23, Malay daily Harian Metro reported that night market traders are among the group of business owners who face an increased risk of folding if they are not allowed to operate during MCO 2.0.