By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: Business folk in this border resort city are missing out on millions of ringgit in potential foreign exchange from shoppers from oil-rich neighbour Brunei because there is no mega sale here at this time of the year.
There is an ongoing year-end sale but not the mega sale which psychologically attracts Bruneians by the thousands.
Businesses in Malaysia can only use the phrase mega sale during August and September.
Sarawak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Datuk Sim Hock Guan appealed to the Government to be more liberal in allowing the use of the term mega sale.
It seems that shoppers from Brunei eagerly await the mega sale. We have not received any notice (from the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry) asking us to initiate any mega sales, even though this is the Christmas season and the period leading to the New Year and new school-term.
Miri is an important shopping destination. Many business sectors here stand to gain from Bruneian shoppers, but it seems that the crowd coming here now is not as big as anticipated.
We hope more mega sales can be held throughout the year.
It makes a lot of difference in terms of bringing in foreign exchange from Brunei, he said.
Previous estimates showed that the mega sale in Miri can rake in at least RM30mil in foreign exchange from Bruneians, foreigners and Malaysians working in Brunei who cross into Miri daily for shopping, entertainment, food and sight-seeing.
Local industries gain from the influx, especially the hotels, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail outlets, car workshops and beauty parlours.
Balwant Singh, head of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry here, acknowledged that shoppers from Brunei were not as plentiful as expected.
The term mega sale indeed has a strong draw, but we cannot simply allow the term to be used because it is a gazetted name. Mega sale is held only in August and September every year, he said.
Right now, there is an ongoing year-end sale. Actually, it is the same as the mega sale because it also involves cheap sales. But it seems that the term mega sale is more well-known and attractive.
The business community must do more promotion for the year-end sale and highlight it as widely as possible as is done for the mega sale, he said.