Kota Kinabalu June 22, 2012: The Consumer Affairs and Protection Association of Sabah (CAPS) said it has been getting complaints from consumers and retailers about more foreigners, especially Pakistanis, running grocery shops in places where even local retailers normally have problems starting their business.
"We have started conducting surveys and calling witnesses.
To our shock there are many such retail shops operated by even newly-arrived Pakistanis mushrooming in many districts," said CAPS Deputy Treasurer Donny Yap.
He said these areas involved the city's outskirts like Likas, Sembulan and in Penampang, Putatan, Petagas and other districts like Papar and Kota Belud.
"What astonished us was that many of these Pakistanis were given leeway in starting their retail businesses in ways that normally locals won't be allowed by the authorities.
"These include illegal extensions to existing houses, taking over a worn-out 'bangsal' or building initially just small huts beside a road and then turning them into full-fledged retail shops," he said, in a statement.
He said some others were allowed to just erect their own buildings outside apartment areas, even sticking right onto a fence or in other cases, right below power lines.
"When the relevant authorities act on complaints, these Pakistani operators would quickly do the necessary and that is the end of the complaint.
"Many of those who complained to us were local retailers who questioned the State government's special treatment of these new arrivals, while the enforcement had always been strict on local tuckshop operators.
"We are raising this because their complaints are genuine and affecting bona fide Sabahans," he said.
"While it is good to give alternatives to consumers we must ensure that we regulate properly the mushrooming groceries operated by foreigners like what Pantai Manis Assemblyman Abdul Rahim Ismail had raised on in the last State Assembly sitting," he said.