By Sarawakian


The start of 2022 heralded an uneasy dawn. We enter the new year filled with what ifs more than a calculated surety. 2022 would be a year where everything seems cautious. We hope that the Omicron at the back of the Delta would not cause the same type of movement control orders as in 2021.


On the economic front, we saw the opening of Pavilion Bukit Jalil Shopping centre last December. It is rumoured that this year, Lalaport would open her doors sometime towards the end of the month. It has been tough for retail though. The opening of Pavilion Bukit Jalil showed that it was quite like how Tropicana Gardens opened in 2020 just before the pandemic struck. The number of empty spaces taken up has not given much hope that shopping centres have returned to being a place to go.


It was also reported that the IOI City shopping centre in Putrajaya would also be opening her extension in the middle of the year. It remains to be seen if Lalaport, which is the first shopping centre brand from the same fellas as the Mitsui Outlet Park in KLIA would create good buzz. The same is said of IOI City Mall’s extension.


As Christmas came and gone, the short visits to shopping centres around the Klang Valley saw good crowds but the masked faces and eyes do not seem excited. It was as if everyone just wanted to get out of their houses. Decorations put up in shopping centres this time are so varied that one wonders why some even bother putting up. Those who decked their malls saw lesser engagements versus what was normally expected pre pandemic.


Despite reading about how people think that shopping centres would still be the social space for many, one can only hope that this is true. Some retailers have started to place more emphasis on online shopping platforms which give greater reach and in turn allow them to offer better price points than before. Landlords would have to contend with commercial terms which sway towards a shared profit of sales turnover instead of a fixed sum.


Many fashion stores have closed. There has been a dearth of new fashion brands coming into shopping centres. Judging by hoarding boards appearing in shopping centres like MidValley and even Suria KLCC, it does seem that the retail reset is real. Customers have indeed changed. This is also due to the change in priorities for many in terms of affordability. Many restaurants have also closed and in their place, some new ones.


It is a known fact that many retailers who were slated to open in 2020 and 2021 have postponed their opening to 2022. This created a backlog and a dilemma. They would have to choose between honouring their earlier contract to open these first or to open those which are in newly opened shopping centres. Choosing one which is tried and tested versus one sold on promise. Those who are bullish would normally be the ones seen in new shopping centres. The affinity for risks would become a major factor for decision making.


On the social front, the anticipation of an endemic definition and the possibility of more freedom seemed to have been stumped with the occurrences of the Omicron which is touted to be even far more contagious than the Delta. The booster initiative has been ramped up in anticipation of this. We have now been informed that it is ok to have a mix of vaccines as your booster on top of the singular primary vaccination. By then, most of us would have been injected three times within a space of a year. For now, it is still the same with the required temperature checks and the mandatory scanning of the MySejahtera application code. Those without the ability would still need to manually register. The use of hand sanitizers and the washing of hands with soap would continue.


On the political front and based on the recent 82-seat election in Sarawak, it is noticeably clear that people are fed up with politics of today. Many yearn for a fresh outlook and eve better, new parties to come and challenge the old dinosaurs of what was left of BN, PN and PH. The current situation was caused by those folks who have no innovative ideas on how to improve unity in diversity. For the first time, I dare say that the next General Election, when those from 18 years are allowed to vote, and with new parties coming in as a choice, there would be huge surprises.


Many of us who voted in 2018 were led to believe that we would change for the better. Alas, after obtaining the very power to change, procrastinated actions made many frustrated. In frustration we saw the results of the Melaka elections. Do not look too simply on the results, many of us have decided not to even vote for now as the fragile situation pains whoever is the government. Come GE15, everyone will show you what it means to keep promises.


It is an uneasy dawn for all of us as we welcome 2022. In a month’s time, the Chinese New Year would be upon us. The Ox would pass the baton to the Tiger. Whilst the Metal Ox has managed to prod through the year strongly, would the Water Tiger then be the end of the oppressors and liars?


Happy New Year 2022 and God Bless