We Talk To Pawn Shop Operators To Find Out The Truth Behind Viral Photos Of Long Queues
Photos of long queues outside pawn shops throughout Malaysia went viral yesterday, 4 May, spurring speculation that many Malaysians were out to pawn their jewellery in exchange for cash
The phenomenon was spotted on the first day of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), the fifth phase of the MCO which aims to restart the country's economy.
However, while many netizens were saddened to see many Malaysians were in desperate need of cash, it turns out that a sizeable number of the customers were just there to renew their pawn tickets and redeem their valuables.
Malaysia Pawnbrokers Association president Tan Ho Keng said they did not see a spike in customers coming to pawn their valuables
Instead, most customers who turned up at pawn shops on Monday were there to renew or redeem their pawn tickets, reported The Star.
"There are a lot of people queuing outside the shops due to the fact that we have not been open for a month and a half, and we are only allowed to operate daily between 9am and 2pm," Tan said.
He said customers were unable to redeem their valuables due to the repeatedly extended MCO.
SAYS managed to reach out to one of the pawn shops seen in the viral photos. The operator downplayed the phenomenon, urging the public to not deem this scenario as peculiar.
He compared the long queues outside of pawn shops yesterday to bakery shops, saying if a bakery was closed for seven weeks, naturally customers would queue up just to get a loaf of bread once they are back in business.
"In fact, it does not just happen in our industry. We see all industries concerned also have people queuing up," said the operator, who runs a pawn shop in Taiping, Perak.
When asked whether there were many customers who came to his shop to pawn their valuables for cash, the operator said there were only "some".
"Basically, they come in to renew (their pawn tickets) and surprisingly, there were a lot of customers who come here to redeem their items. You will be surprised," he told SAYS.
"From what I gathered and my personal point of view, the government has been channelling cash aid to Malaysians. A lot of my customers have the means to come to renew (their pawn tickets) and we have a lot of items that have been taken back by the customers."
The operator, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he estimated 60% of his customers came to his store to renew pawn tickets or redeem their valuables, while the remaining came to pawn their valuables.
When contacted by SAYS, a newly opened pawn shop in Subang Jaya, Selangor said that they did not receive a large crowd yesterday
Meanwhile, many pawn shops were too busy to talk over a phone interview when contacted, citing large crowds and that they were busy handling customers.
However, according to Malaysiakini, some pawn shops reportedly did receive a surge in customers pawning gold for cash.
Among them is a Pajaking branch in Petaling Jaya, operated by Freeman Tan. He said most of his customers were low-income earners who lost their livelihoods due to the enforcement of the MCO.
Tan had prepared more cash on the first day of the CMCO to meet customers' demand.
"During the MCO period, many customers called and asked me to reopen my shop. They urgently need cash to survive," Tan said.
On Monday, 4 May, a large crowd was spotted outside a mall in Kuala Lumpur, sparking concerns of a new COVID-19 cluster:
Read more CMCO stories on SAYS: