Eateries among the clear winners as Malaysia enters by-election season

Restaurants, coffeeshops and food stalls in Pulai and Simpang Jeram are enjoying brisk business from people who have descended on the constituencies before nomination day on August 26.


Extra customers: The crowd at Lim’s coffeeshop during the campaign period. PHOTO: THE STAR

September 8, 2023

MUAR– With the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections approaching, there are already clear winners.

Restaurants, coffeeshops and food stalls in Pulai and Simpang Jeram are enjoying brisk business from people who have descended on the constituencies before nomination day on Aug 26.

In addition to activists from the main political coalitions, there are more government officials and media personnel in these areas because of the by-elections.

Tuzilah Md Saru, who runs a restaurant selling asam pedas, started getting more customers about two days before nomination day.

Her shop is in Jalan Sungai Abong, a main artery that lies in the heart of the Simpang Jeram constituency, next to Muar.

“My shop is near the town of Muar, where most of the campaign activities are held. So I’ve been getting customers who are involved in the campaign, as they need a place to rest and eat,” Tuzilah said in an interview.

“On nomination day itself, the number of customers increased significantly, especially during lunch time,” she added.

The 44-year-old said the presence of top party leaders has created large gatherings of campaign workers and residents.

The peak was on the first two days of the campaign period when political leaders such as Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang were both campaigning here, she said.

Marcus Lim, a third-generation coffeeshop owner in Muar, said his business had also benefitted from the walkabouts by political leaders in town.

“One of the parties has also held more than five rounds of walkabouts here where they have their candidate greet voters,” said the 33-year-old.

“Each time they come, we will see good sales as the supporters will also sometimes sit down to have some drinks,” he said.

Lim expects sales to increase up to the polling day weekend when outstation voters return home to cast their ballots.

“I believe that the crowd will get bigger as we get closer to polling day, as that is when the parties intensify their campaign programmes. There will also be people returning home to vote,” he said.

There are 40,488 registered voters in Simpang Jeram, of which 21,005 (51.87%) are Malays, 18,052 (44.58%) are Chinese, 1,027 (2.53%) are Indians, and 404 (0.99%) are from other communities.

In Pulai, bakery shop owner Aslinda Sulaiman, 52, said the most significant spike in her sales was during a visit by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Aug 25.

“The Prime Minister came to have lunch at the food court next door one day before nomination day.

“His presence really pulled in the crowd here and this has also helped to boost my business,” said Aslinda, whose shop is in Taman Cempaka, which is next to Johor Baru city.

She hopes that those campaigning in Pulai will have more walkabouts in the area as it will help the local business community.

Restaurant owner J. Valaiitham, 44, hopes to see more customers in the next few days.

“For now, my restaurant has yet to see any significant rise in business as there are two other restaurants in this area that are closer to the command centre of one of the political parties.

“However, I believe that there is still a good chance for my business to reap the benefits of the election once we get closer to polling day,” he said.

The Pulai parliamentary seat has 166,653 voters, of whom 44.18% (73,619) are Malays, 40.46% (67,434) are Chinese, and 12.31% (20,508) are Indians, while 3.06% (5,092) are of other ethnicities.

scroll to top