Muar local council explains clampdown on businesses over advertising

Ben Tan
A general view of Muar. Mustaffa welcomed the state government’s effort to preserve the concrete pillars engraved with traditional Chinese characters as historical value to Muar. ― Bernama pic

JOHOR BARU, Sept 7 ― The Muar Municipal Council (MPM) today urged business operators to follow licensing rules for engraved traditional Chinese characters on pillars until they are gazetted as historical material.

MPM president Mustaffa Kamal Shamsudin said once the state government makes the necessary amendments, the council can then exempt the licensing charges on those pillars which are currently categorised as advertising billboards.

“This has recently become an issue when MPM’s advertising licensing unit collected an amount that did not tally based on registered business premises with their billboard licenses.

“MPM stipulates that business owners must apply and pay for each billboard or signage that is featured on their premise separately or they will be removed,” he said in a reply to Malay Mail’s queries on the council’s stand today.

For February, MPM received applications for about 9,000 business premises in Muar, while billboards licenses were just over 5,000.

This had prompted the council to act on the vast disparity of the billboard licenses.

Checks showed that each license cost an average of RM60 per year, depending on size of the characters.

Mustaffa said that the council was only acting fairly as in 2006, the state government had issued guidelines on spelling and advertisement texts before MPM amended the licensing laws in 2011 so that business operators within its jurisdiction would adhere to the guidelines.

He said notices were issued to the business owners recently in accordance with the council’s provisions after MPM was reprimanded each time there was an audit as the figures of business premises did not tally with their advertising billboards.

“Please bear in mind that most business premises, especially the pre-war ones here, have more than one billboard as the pillars also come under the by-law,” he explained, adding that the business owners should apply and pay all of it.

Mustaffa said MPM was fair and there was no racial element when their enforcement officers carried out their duties as the affected business premises have more than one billboard, which includes the pre-war pillars.

“For example, if a shop has six advertisement billboards, including the main entrance and the concrete pillars, the business owner is required under the council’s by-laws to pay for all of it,” he said.

On the latest move, following yesterday’s visit by Johor Local Government, Science and Technology Committee chairman Tan Hong Pin, Mustaffa welcomed the state government’s effort to preserve the concrete pillars engraved with traditional Chinese characters as historical value to Muar.

He said such a move to amend the law will exempt the pillars from being categorised as advertising billboards.

“We recommend that advertisements that exist before 1950 are registered in the national archives and to be gazetted as historical material.

“Through this implementation, MPM also does not have the problem of maintaining the advertisement on the pillars, that include other languages that exist,” he said.

On Wednesday, a Chinese daily reported that several business operators along Jalan Sisi in Muar town were issued notices to remove traditional Chinese lettering found on the shop’s concrete pillars.

This prompted the state government, led by Tan, to intervene and look into the matter yesterday.

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