October 13, 2017 Print

Regulations on businesses and business owners are on the rise in Malaysia. Small businesses struggle to survive in such an environment, where there are a constant imposition of taxes and a continued difficulty of navigating the existing regulations as new ones are implemented. The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS)’s Tricia Yeoh was this year’s Think Tank Shark Tank — Asia competition winner for her project on identifying the effects of bad business regulations on Malaysian entrepreneurs.

The anticipated outcome of this project is to compile testimonies of entrepreneurs, document their struggles in navigating Malaysian business regulations, and present them to key stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Domestic Trade Cooperatives and Consumerism, as a means of catalyzing a change in the existing regulations. 

The impact of the current regulations is apparent all over Malaysia. For example, IDEAS explains “the five minute walk between Kuala Terengganu’s main bus terminal and its largest and oldest market, Pasar Payang was once packed with shops and five-foot peddlers. Today, it resembles a deserted street as many shops have either closed down or were forced out. What’s left are few electrical and hardware stores, a newsstand, a watch shop and a jewelry shop.”


Tricia Yeoh making her pitch at the 2017 Think Tank Shark Tank — Asia competition.

Even though there is physical evidence to support a change in government regulation, IDEAS has found that a lot of small business owners do not wish to voice their concerns and hardships “on the record.” Getting comprehensive insight has proved to be a challenging task. One of the business owners who did choose to go on the record, Moud Fauzi Mohd, a 61-year-old watch maker, expressed that “two issues are killing our businesses here, failed development and the Goods and Services Tax.”

IDEAS is hoping to influence policy through getting this project picked up by various media outlets and through spreading the word on social media. The organization is hoping to use this compilation of testimony as a means of leveraging its current influence in media and government to help them understand and act on the existing business and tax regulations that are making the market hard to navigate for small businesses. Hopefully, as this project continues to gain traction in Malaysia, IDEAS will continue to achieve positive, lasting impacts on the Malaysian economy.