BIGGEST JOKE – DOES ISMAIL SABRI SABRI REALISE HIS ‘LEGACY’ DIGITAL MALL IS NOW DESERTED – MALAY TRADERS THERE, NOW STRUGGLING TO STAY AFLOAT, TELL HIM TO REVIVE THE PLACE – EVEN AS HIS REGIME GOES AROUND PLAYING THE RACE CARD WITH CALLS ON GLC-OWNED MALLS TO RESERVE SPOTS FOR BUMIS

Digital Mall trader hopes PM can revive brainchild

Mara Digital Mall in Kuala Lumpur, a brainchild of Ismail Sabri Yaakob, is now deserted.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has been urged to revive Mara Digital Mall in the capital, his brainchild from 2015 which is now devoid of customers and which looks gloomy and deserted.

Vendors at the mall meant for Bumiputera retailers have urged Ismail, who initiated the project when he was the rural development minister, to give it a new lease of life.

The retailers at the mall, strategically located at the Mara building at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur, said they have generally been operating at a loss for the past few years, and their income plummeted with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hairul Nizad has a shop repairing telecommunications equipment at Mara Digital Mall.

Hairul said his business slumped 60% after the national lockdowns and was now struggling to stay afloat.

“If in the past I used to get 10 customers a day on average, now it’s only one. In my opinion, this is down to a lack of promotion. People still don’t know where Mara Digital is,” he said.

He hoped that Ismail would take note of the vendors’ problems and order government agencies to promote the mall better. He said the new Mara-led management should put up LED billboards outside the building.

Another trader, Fauzan Hanafi, agreed that the lack of customers was due to poor promotion by the previous management.

A trader says he now gets one customer on average compared with 10 previously.

However, the mall is being managed by Mara now “and it seems like they are serious in attracting big Bumiputera companies”, he said.

Fauzan said sales at rival malls such as Low Yat Plaza and Pertama Complex had also decreased, claiming that many of those who visited those outlets were only window shopping.

“Hopefully, our business will recover and things will be lively again. That is our big hope,” he said.

Another trader, Bob Nurdin, said renting a shop lot at Mara Digital Mall was several times cheaper than lots in other buildings, which eased their burden to a certain extent.

Bob Nurdin.

He said that even though sales were slow, retailers could still survive and stay in the black.

“It’s not only here that sales are falling, it’s the same at other premises such as Low Yat Plaza and Pertama Complex,” he said.

“Due to the economic downturn, sometimes they don’t even manage to get any profit as their sales are only enough to cover their rent. We can make some profit here because the rent is cheap.”

Bib said the rentals at Mara Digital Mall were between RM2,000 and RM3,000, but could run up to tens of thousands at Low Yat Plaza.

Mara Digital Mall was launched in 2015 and has branches in Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Johor Bahru and Kuantan.

In 2019, the rural development ministry said in a parliamentary reply the Kuantan mall was closed in December 2018, Johor Bahru in February 2019 and the Shah Alam location in 2018.

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