Mydin Mohamed Holdings Berhad Managing Director Dato Ameer Ali Mydin needs no introduction in Subang Jaya. The owner of the largest chain of hypermarkets in the country is a household name for most of us as well as a respected businessman in the country.
SJEcho caught up with the man himself over a cup of coffee recently to try and capture his takeaway from the Covid-19 pandemic and the months that have passed us by since March 18 2020 when the country was locked down with the Movement Control Order.
Malaysians cannot afford another lockdown; Mydin Mohamed Holdings Berhad Managing Director Dato Ameer Ali Mydin said straight away when he sat down for the interview.
“It would be catastrophic if it happens again. We have not felt the pain from the months of lockdown because the government has been cushioning it.”
“Our savings would be depleted and we will suffer if we allow ourselves to walk into another MCO,” he stressed.
Ameer said it is important for everyone to adhere to the SOPs set out by the National Security Council and also just as important for the authorities to enforce it.
“Strict enforcement of the SOPs will indirectly mean less capacity for business but it is a small price to pay to avoid another shutdown.”
“I am worried. Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that restaurants are packed and the need for physical distancing has been almost forgotten. Even at higher end outlets in Bangsar, people don’t practice it to the letter,” he said.
Ameer advocates strict physical distancing at work or back at home. Members of his staff are penalized if they are caught not practicing it.
“I didn’t stay home when the MCO was implemented. I went down to the ground to get involved in the day-to-day operations with my customers, suppliers, my partners and also my staff.”
“I believe that life is not just about what you must do but be seen to do. It is leadership by example. People will follow your example,” he said.
According to Ameer, when people ask to do a selfie with him, he is selective.
“If you are wearing a mask, you can stand next to me. If you are not wearing a mask, you have to stand at least one metre away from me.”
“I might be infected so it’s better for people to take precautions. Besides that, I have an 85-year-old mother at home. I give her a hug every day. I need to make sure I am safe and do not land up passing anything to my own mother,” Ameer said, adding that he keeps a strict regime cleaning his hands regularly.
Mydin as a hypermarket has had to make many changes to the way it carries out its business. Old ways of reaching out to shoppers had to be improved in the new normal.
“Our traditional mode of using flyers to communicate with our shoppers had to be replaced during the MCO and CMCO. So we engaged social media – Facebook, Instagram and even Tik-Tok.”
“The MCO pushed us to go online aggressively. People were shopping online and we had to adapt to meet their needs,” he added.
Ameer said reducing the entrance and exits at Mydin USJ1 for example has opened up “new doors” for their tenants as shoppers are now “guided” through the whole ground floor from the point of entry right to the time they exit the building.
“We run a service. We cannot afford to close because if we did, what are people going to eat if they can’t buy their necessities?”
“A shopper came to me once during the MCO and told he needed to buy a rice cooker. He didn’t have one at home because he hardly cooked but during the MCO he is required to be at home. We couldn’t allow shoppers to go anywhere except the groceries section so I told the shopper to wait. I ran upstairs, grabbed a brand new rice cooker from the shelf and brought it back to him, “ he said.
Ameer revealed that he gave his tenants a reprieve for their rentals during the MCO because he believed in riding the tide together.
“I recently had a meeting with the Prime Minister. I told him that most landlords are big and rich organisations who are trying to decide if the reduction in rentals for their tenants means a 10-course or 5-course dinner for themselves.”
“But for the tenant, it’s all about whether they have dinner or none at all,” he pointed out.
Before we winded up the interview session, Ameer reminded the public to continue to adhere to the SOPs and not allow another wave to hit the country.