From the dock to rubbing shoulders with PMX: KK Mart founder shows steely resurgence with Uzbek expansion plan

KK Supermart Group is back in the news – this time, not in a bad but rather big way.

Unlike the furore when a pair of socks bearing the Arabic inscription “Allah” was found in one of the convenience chain’s stores, this time it involved the company’s international link up.

In a statement issued by the 24-hour convenience store chain recently, its founder Datuk Seri Dr Chai Kee Kan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government of the Samarkand region in Uzbekistan to jointly promote economic activities.

Under the MOU, KK Supermart Group will open branches in Uzbekistan, a country with significant historical and cultural ties to Islam. The convenience store outfit will introduce Malaysian products to the Uzbek market.

Back on its home turf, KK Super Mart will also open a specialised store to promote Uzbekistan goods by focusing on fruits and agricultural products.

The said MOU was inked between Chai who is also the KK Supermart Group executive chairman and the deputy governor of Samarkand Oybek Erkinovich Khodjaev.

Witnessing the ceremony was none other than Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was on an official visit to Uzbekistan and the Central Asian country’s Deputy PM Jamshid Khodjaev.

Datuk Seri Dr Chai Kee Kan with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Uzbekistan to ink a MOU for the KK Supermart Group’s business expansion to Central Asia

Datuk Seri Dr Chai Kee Kan (left) with Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing

Chai, 57, has definitely come a long way since he was jointly charged with his wife Loh Siew Mui, 53, for “wounding the religious feelings of others” in March over sale of the damning socks. Loh is also a director of KK Supermart Group.

The charges brought against the couple was the culmination of weeks of protest and rife following the discovery of the socks in one of the 200-odd stores nationwide. UMNO Youth head Dr Muhamad Akmal Salleh had then spearheaded a nationwide boycott of the 24-hour convenience store chain for allegedly hurting the feelings of Muslims.

This was despite KK Super Mart having apologised for what it deemed to be a genuine oversight.

The question now is would Dr Akmal now call on Uzbeks to similarly boycott KK Super Mart’s outlets in a country where the population is 85% Muslims?

Or would he dare to chastise Anwar and several other Cabinet Ministers for witnessing the MOU signing involving a company that UMNO Youth regarded as an affront to Malaysian Muslims? – May 21, 2024

Images credit: China Press

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