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 Local

It’s lights out at 1Borneo

12th July, 2018

By JONATHAN NICHOLAS

KOTA KINABALU: It is lights out at Sabah’s largest mall, 1Borneo Hypermall, after the power utility company completely disconnected their electricity supply for the second time yesterday.

This comes after the mall’s management failed to settle their outstanding dues as assured to Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB).

But the tenants of the mall will suffer the brunt as now they are unable to continue their businesses. The tenants are pleading with the state government to solve their predicament.

Many of the tenants and their workers were seen carrying placards in protests shortly after the power was cut. The tenants were unhappy with SESB for refusing to accept the RM2.8 million offered on Tuesday.

The amount, raised by some of the tenants, comprised RM2 million as deposit, RM700,000 for part settlement of current dues, and RM100,000 for old dues.

“We cannot understand why SESB did not want to accept a win-win settlement to allow more time for settlement. They (SESB) don’t benefit by cutting power,” they said.

Chairman to 1Borneo’s Tenants Action Committee, Johnny Chia, said the government should step in as arbitrator in this situation.

“Our circle had voted in support of Parti Warisan and we have tried to contact Sepanggar Member of Parliment Datuk Aziz Jamman but we have yet to receive a response from him.

“We have 40 Chinese investors who now have to be put to an abrupt hold because of this issue…This will also indirectly impact Sabah’s economy.

“1Borneo is a strategic spot for tourists. It is a one stop hotel and shopping location en-route to the beauty of Sabah that lies in the South,” he said yesterday.

The four existing hotels and condominium towers at the mall are unaffected by the power cuts as they have independent meters but Chia believes they will face huge depreciation of value should the main building become abandoned.

“In addition to 3,000 people losing their jobs, the Sepanggar area will become an unpleasant place as many homeless people will take to squatting inside the mall.

“And without funding for security, the people from the surrounding villages will seize the opportunity to steal parts and wiring from the mall which will be reduced to an unsalvageable building later on,” said Chia.

Chia who is confident that the mall will prosper given adequate time had disclosed that a liquidating company was hired in to save the mall.

An anonymous spokesman for the liquidator told the press that they are not a proxy for Malaysian ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak or former State minister Raymond Tan such as circulated on social media.

One of the tenants who declined to be named said that it was not the fault of the tenants for the predicament. “We have been paying the management on time. This is no fault of ours,” she lamented.

SESB was forced to cut off the electricity after the management still failed to clear its bill despite notices given. Meanwhile, disgruntled tenants held up placards calling for empathy from SESB and pleaded with the government and their elected representative to intervene and protect their livelihood.

On June 27, SESB had partially cut off the mall’s electricity supply, as they had “done so for the sake of the employees”.

The mall management, who owed about RM9.3mil to SESB, had since paid around RM700,000 to settle the debt. The power supply was restored the following day on June 28.

Yesterday, SESB said that the mall management failed to settle the remaining dues as of 8.30am, and technicians went ahead with pulling the fuse.

Sepanggar MP Azis had called on the utility company to review its decision for the sake of the mall employees’ welfare.

“I am willing to be a mediator in this matter. We need to seek a solution that would spare the employees from losing their jobs and livelihood.

“We must put the interest of the people first, and in this case, it will be the workers employed in the various outlets who stand to lose the most,” he had said.

He said by disconnecting power supply, shops will be forced to close and workers would be at risk of losing their jobs.

“I want to help and I am willing to be a mediator so we can all sit down and find a solution,” added Azis, who is now the Deputy Home Minister.

1Borneo Hypermall, located near the Universiti Malaysia Sabah campus along Jalan Sulaman, was built on a joint-venture basis on a land which belonged to United Sabah Islamic Association (USIA). Aside from the shopping mall which has been experiencing low tenancy rates of late, the project also has two condominium blocks and two hotels.

   
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