Gerakan chief to financial institutions: Stop blowing billions on new malls, focus on rakyat, SMEs, instead

Gerakan president Datuk Dominic Lau calls on financial institutions in Malaysia to stop financing new shopping malls and office buildings.

He said financial aid should instead be used to help Malaysians own homes and get their businesses going.

“What is the point of financing billions of ringgit to an over-supplied infrastructure when financing is urgently needed for the survival of the rakyat?” said Lau in a statement today.

“The survival of the rakyat is paramount to the country. Without the (spending power of the) rakyat, no shopping mall and even office building will survive… Financial institutions will lose their money.”

Young Malaysians have not been able to afford homes, especially in the city, due to the escalating costs. While wages have remained the same over the past two decades, the prices of property have shot up, resulting in youths not being able to fork out the 10 per cent deposit, let alone service the monthly installments.

There have been a surge of new shopping malls and office blocks nationwide, in recent years. Quite a number remain either empty or partially occupied.

The brick-and-mortar concept had been severely tested in the age of online shopping, especially during the various lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lau singled out the construction of a new mega shopping mall in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

“Why are financial institutions still financing all these new malls, costing billions of ringgit?

“These are unprecedented times… While battling Covid-19, the world’s economy has slowed down.

“Financial institutions must look at how they can assist the rakyat and small, and medium (SME) business owners, so that they can rejuvenate the country’s economy, instead of wasting money on over-supplied infrastructure, like mega shopping malls and office buildings that are often empty once completed.

“The regulators should look into this … The rakyat need the money via financing facilities to survive, to recover from the Covid-19 menace. These financial institutions must help the rakyat, not the big corporations.”

While the government had introduced several incentives for the people at the height of the pandemic, many, especially business owners, claimed that they had not benefitted much from these incentives.

Some of the incentives were merely one-off payments, which could not sustain these businesses as they suffered from serious cash flow issues during the lockdowns. This resulted in many employers shedding their workforce, while others were forced to close shop.

Lau urged financial institutions to immediately review their financial terms for the people and SMEs.