People make beeline for pawnshops

IPOH: Long queues can be seen at several pawnshops in the city on the first day of their reopening.

A worker at a pawnshop in Ipoh’s new town said there were more than 70 customers from morning until noon. “Before they entered the shop, we took the temperature of each customer and they are required to use the hand sanitisers provided by us, ” he said. “We also recorded their personal details such as name, identity card number and address.” A customer at the shop, who wished to be known as Rashidah, said she had no other choice but to pawn her jewellery.

“I work as a cleaner and I am being paid on a daily basis. I have had no source of income for more than one month.

“My family and I rely on donations and food aid, but we are in need of immediate cash to buy medicine for one of my children who is suffering from asthma. “I have been the sole breadwinner for my family since my husband left us a few years ago, ” she said.

Rashidah said her Bantuan Prihatin Nasional application was still being processed. “Considering my situation as a single mother, I thought I would receive the aid sooner. But I guess I just need to wait a little longer.

“Hopefully, my application will be approved as I need the money for food, medicine as well as for paying bills, ” she said.

Scenes of long queues at pawnshops went viral on social media yesterday. The pictures show at least 20 people with face masks queuing at these shops.

Former Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran expressed his disappointment over the crowds at several pawnshops in Ipoh.

Through his official Twitter account, Kulasegaran, who is Ipoh Barat MP, questioned if the government’s economic aid had reached people in need.

Malaysia Pawnbrokers Association president Tan Ho Keng, when contacted, however said there had not been a large increase in the number of people pawning valuables. He said most of those who turned up were there to renew or redeem their pawn tickets. “There are a lot of people queuing outside the shops due to the fact that we have not been open for a month and a half, and we are only allowed to operate daily between 9am and 2pm, ” he said, adding that this had resulted in many customers being unable to redeem their valuables.

Tan urged the government to accelerate the introduction of digital transactions into pawnbrokers’ business operations.

“This will be good for public health as it reduces physical contact, ” he said. Johor Pawnbrokers Association chairman Ho Kuek Kuwang shared the same sentiment. “The majority of them are actually queuing to pay interest or redeem their pawn tickets, ” he said.

Ho said people rushed to pawnshops because of the uncertainty of how long they were allowed to operate.

“When people hear that we are allowed to reopen, they rush to come but this only happened for the first hour, ” he said.

Source: The Star

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