George Town, Penang, is one of the most significant places in the country that expresses some of the oldest and most revered histories and cultures of Peninsula Malaya. Since the dawn of maritime trade between South India and Southeast Asia, many Indian labourers and merchants have contributed immensely to the cultural, economic, religious, and even political aspects of the region. Today, Little India in Georgetown stands as a continued emblem of that heritage. This festive season helps to bring alive the vibrant mosaic of restaurants, clothing stores, and religious spaces, yet due to the rise in inflation, profits for this year’s Deepavali season have severely decreased for local business owners.
Even with the abundance of necessities and luxuries accessible for customers in this highly visited locality, business operators stated that this year profits have significantly decreased, comparatively from last year, due to the current rise in inflation, patrons opting to shop online for their needed and desired products, and the many other Deepavali bazaars that have been organised elsewhere.
Business owners also state that the presence of foreign businesses also poses an additional threat to the livelihood of local operations.
The government has to rethink how foreign businesses can operate bazaars here while local business owners have to pay tax as well as rent for their stores.
– Mr. Thanneermalai, Business Owner
It is not just business owners who are at a loss due to the increase in inflation, and the competition from foreign businesses poses a significant threat to local businesses. Ordinary working-class people too have to bear the burden of this drastric change, as Mr. Thiruselvam, a customer, says that the crisis of inflation has affected the B40 community quite critically. He states how, in this current economic climate, this class of people are really struggling to get ends met.