Why discriminate against local Indian trade fairs and exhibitions when Deepavali is round the corner?

INDIAN trade exhibitions and carnivals are quite common in Malaysia where there are large Indian population concentrations, notably in locales designated as Little India.

Every year before the festival of Deepavali, it is common to see Indian traders exhibiting their items for sale. This once-a-year event will enable the Indian public to purchase items that are cheap and of quality.

Contrary to what has been said, these trade exhibitions do not pose a threat to long established traders (those who run retail stores). Alternatively, they provide a choice and price bargain for customers.

Even if these trade fairs are not held, the established traders face stiff competition from online sales and others.

Given the pressure from local, state governments and established Indian retail traders, these trade fairs are held with minimal interruptions to the local Indian community.

All these organisers of trade fairs have to obtain their permits from the local government councils. Sometimes, the respective state government might intervene to set some conditions for these trade fairs.

When I was in the Penang state for 15 years, the state made it a policy not allow these trade fairs one month from the day of the Deepavali festival. This was to ensure that the income of local retail traders are not affected.

Little India in Penang (Pic credit: Trip Advisor)

Welfare of Indian traders neglected

However, I don’t understand why the present Penang state government is dilly dallying about giving permits to these Indian traders.

The policy is already there but why the reluctance to issue permits through the local councils? Since Deepavali might be less than three weeks to go, there is no point in issuing permits for trade fairs to be held now.

But my question is why the state government is making so difficult for Indian traders with the participation of locals to hold trade fairs in the state. These are not trade fairs by foreigners.

What is the point of boasting about Penang as an international city in attracting local and foreign investments if Indian trade fairs and exhibitions are restricted?

Are they being restricted because of public complaints or complaints from the local retailers, or simply because the Penang state government cannot get its act together on the matter?

I find it rather amusing to note an EXCO member of the present state government remarking that the state government has not come out with the policy on the matter. While the Penang state government goes out of its ways to attract international trade fairs and exhibitions, why the double-standard in allowing Indian Malaysian trade fairs.

Is it because local Indian trade fairs are not worthy of consideration? Why is the local Indian community denied a chance to purchase items that are affordably-price and competitive?

It has come to my understanding that there are attempts by the Negri Sembilan or a local government there to deny trade fairs in the area designated as Little India.

Pic credit: Little India Seremban Facebook

Why are Indians sidelined?

Mind you his is happening in not Perikaatan Nasional (PN)-controlled states but states controlled by Pakatan Harapan (PH). If the PH state governments in Penang and Negri Sembilan are not keen to have Indian trade fairs, then there is a need to make a public announcement.

Like Penang, the Negri Sembilan state government has two Indian EXCO members. If the Indian EXCO members cannot advise their respective state governments, then what is the point of having Indian representatives in the government?

Penang already has a policy permitting Indian trade fairs and exhibitions during the festive season. Trade fairs are only allowed one month before and after the festive season.

Given this scenario, why is it that a present EXCO member is talking as though there is no existing policy?

I am not sure whether the Negri Sembilan state government has a policy in not allowing trade fairs to take place in Little India? If yes, maybe the policy could be explicated to the Indian public in the state and not wait till the last minute.

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy (right)

After all, Indians are poor and marginalised community in Malaysia. They have no developmental assistance from the federal and state government.

Is the Federal government by virtue of allocating RM100 mil to the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA) expects the community to be eternally grateful to the federal government?

Having trade fairs and exhibitions provide an avenue and opportunity for Indian traders to make some money during the festive seasons. It is therefore mind-boggling that such a primarily Indian business initiative is being curtailed by the so-called Madani state governments.

For a long time, Indians were denied opportunities to engage in business and entrepreneurial activities.

Yet, the community survived through hard work and perseverance. But today, there are deliberate attempts to prevent Indians from engaging in trade and business. Ironically, this has to happen under the PH government which is supposed to be fair and just to marginalised segments of the society. – Oct 27, 2023


Former deputy chief minister II of Penang and ex-Perai state assemblyman Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy was also a former Penang Development Corporation (PDC) board member.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: Penang Foodie

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