Johor looks into changing by-laws after backlash over Muar’s Chinese heritage signs

Ben Tan
Tan said the proposed amendments will be made over the previous 2006 state by-laws governing advertising and business signs. ― Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, Sept 6 ― Johor government official Tan Hong Pin said the state will immediately look into amending local council by-laws to preserve its heritage, after a federal minister objected to the Muar town council’s planned removal of historic Chinese trade signs today.

The state local government, science and technology committee chairman said it needs to study the respective councils’ advertising guidelines.

“The proposed amendments needs to be clear as the traditional Chinese trademark wordings on shop pillars, common on many old shophouses, are a unique part of our Malaysian heritage and shows our nation’s rich diversity,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail.

Tan said the proposed amendments will be made over the previous 2006 state by-laws governing advertising and business signs.

He gave an assurance that the by-laws will cover all districts and municipal councils in Johor in an effort to have a uniform set of guidelines.

Tan visited several old pre-war shophouse lots along Jalan Sisi in Muar town this morning.

His visit follows a report by a local Chinese daily yesterday that highlighted the plight of several shop operators along Jalan Sisi who were told to remove the pillar trademark wordings within two weeks by the Muar Municipal Council (MPM).

The daily reported that MPM enforcement officers, who visited the shop operators on September 4, had said that the size of the wordings did not adhere to the council’s advertising rule.

Tan, who is also the Skudai assemblyman, said the proposed amendments will also take into consideration the traditional Chinese business name plaque that is commonly seen at a shop’s entrance.

He said this will also be covered by the state government’s proposal to avoid another issue similar to the pillar trademark wordings in Muar.

On his visit, Tan said he had met with MPM president Mustaffa Kamal Shamsudin to resolve the issue of the Jalan Sisi shop operators.

“Basically, the MPM enforcement officers were only discharging their duties and there was no issue of being bias.

“The affected shop operators need to only apply for an additional advertising permit with MPM,” he said.

Mustaffa Kamal also made it clear that the issue was not racial in nature as the current municipal by-laws have been in place and needed to be adhered to by all business operators in Muar.

“I hope that the state government will amend the by-laws soon and we at the municipal level will follow suit,” he said.

Earlier today, Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said he will not allow the historical Chinese trademark wordings installed at shop pillars in Muar town to be removed by the municipal council.

The youth and sports minister said the trademark, which has been in existence for more than half a century, is the living history of Muar and tjat the town’s beauty is its diversity that should be maintained at all costs.

“I categorically oppose the forceful removal of the Mandarin (Chinese) trademark. Why only propose the removal of it now, it makes no sense. As the MP of Muar, I won’t allow this to happen,” he said in a statement.

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