On 4 September, shopkeepers in Muar were instructed to remove painted-on Chinese letterings from the pillars of their pre-war shoplots
Sin Chew reported that the shop operators on Jalan Sisi were visited by Muar Municipal Council (MPM) officers and instructed to remove the Chinese signages.
Some of the businesses that were affected included those that have been in operation for decades and passed down through generations.
According to the officers, the signs were in violation of local advertising laws because of their size
The offence carries a maximum fine of RM2,000, a jail term of two years, or both.
Additionally, the shop operators could be fined RM200 for each day the signages stay up.
The local council gave the shop operators two weeks to remove the letterings.
Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman condemned the "forceful removal" of the signages yesterday, 6 September
Malaysiakini reported that in a statement to the press, Syed had "categorically oppose[d] the forceful removal of the Mandarin (Chinese-lettered) trademark".
"Muar's beauty is its diversity and we should protect that at all costs."
"The Mandarin trademark is also the living history of Muar, which has been there for more than half a century," he said.
MPM president Mustaffa Kamal Shamsudin has since retracted the order, though the shop operators will need to apply for permits
The permits are for the purpose of advertising, which cost RM60 per year.
Mustaffa explained that the initial problem arose from shop operators displaying more signages than what they had applied for from the local council.
Therefore, the council carried out a more stringent enforcement of the rule to avoid any discrepancies "during the audit process", Edge Prop reported.
Meanwhile, Johor state executive councillor Tan Hong Pin denied the existence of "racial bias" in the issuing of the order
In a press conference at Jalan Sisi, Tan explained that the officers were acting on a "12-year-old BN-era regulation controlling the size of non-national language shop signages and fonts".
Tan added that the Johor government will look into issuing fresh guidelines for local councils on advertising signages.
The "position of the national language as well as historical and heritage factors" will also be taken into account.
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