Tuesday, December 7

Night club, pub owners have reasons to be optimistic

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THE CELEBRATION BEGINS: Wong (second left) lights a candle for the celebration with chairman Sim Lih Ping. On the left is Kenny Ling and on the right is council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King.

SIBU: Two key factors which have been weighing down heavily on the shoulders of night club and pub owners are the need to move their business to the ground floor and the issue of Chinese nationals performing at the entertainment outlets.

They want their business operations to remain on the first floor of commercial lots, and be given the green light to hire Chinese national artistes to bring in the crowd.

Speaking at a Chinese New Year gathering at Sibu Civic Centre on Sunday, Minister of Local Government and Community Development Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh gave them hope when he gave an assurance that he would look into these two requests. Wong, who is also the Second Finance Minister, said his ministry understood their difficulties in fulfilling the requirement of moving their business operations to the ground floor.

“In principle, my ministry will allow you to operate on the first floor for practical reasons,” he said to the applause of the operators present.

“In many towns, like in Bintulu and Miri, it is difficult to rent suitable ground floor lots, and even if the owners find one, it will be too expensive.”

On their request to hire Chinese national artistes, he said this matter involved the Immigration Department, Labour Department and the police. He said he would arrange for a discussion among these departments to work out a possible deal.

The gathering on Sunday, which was organised by the United Association of Entertainment, Sarawak, also witnessed the installation of Sibu Karaoke, Pub, Lounge and Night Club Association committee members.

In his speech, organising chairman Kenny Ling said pub and night club owners here appreciated Wong’s help.

“We have been burdened by these two factors.”

He said if they were to move to the ground floor, they would be hit badly because it incurred
high costs in terms of renovation and other expenses at a time when they were struggling to stay afloat.

“This has caused us much worry last year, and weighing us further down is the operation hours of until 1am.”

Ling said most clients visited their pubs after 11pm, and to close at 1am could mean curtains down for them in no time at all.

But, with the help of Wong, he said they were now allowed to operate until 2.30pm.

“Last Christmas, we were allowed to extend our business until 3.30am.”

He said their current business operations had been extended to 2.30am on week days, and on the eve of public holidays and on weekends they could extend until 3.30am. Meanwhile, Wong, in his speech, advised the operators to protect their business image against negative elements.

He said night entertainment had been traditionally viewed as negative in social development.

“But, time has changed; a well-managed night entertainment centre provides recreation for the balance of body in its physical and mental sense.”