Coronavirus: Cash-strapped people rush to pawnshops in Malaysia, SE Asia  News & Top Stories - The Straits TimesWednesday, 31 Mar 2021
JOHOR BARU: People have been found using money from their i-Sinar withdrawal to reclaim personal belongings, including pawned valuables.

Besides redeeming these items, some are also using the EPF money to purchase gold and second-hand cars.

Johor Pawnbrokers Association chairman Ho Kuek Kuwang said the number of people visiting pawnshops to redeem gold ornaments increased by about 15% since early this month.

“The number of people pawning their valuables has dropped of late but many are coming to either redeem their gold or renew their pawn tickets.

“We started seeing an increase in people reclaiming their valuables since the end of last year as more government aid was handed out to the public.

“However, we only saw a significant surge in numbers about two to three weeks ago with many people receiving their money through i-Sinar, ” he said.

Tan Wang Chang, who operates two pawnshops here, said fewer people were pawning items since the beginning of the year.

“More people have been coming to redeem their valuables since the removal of conditions for the i-Sinar facility.

“Apart from this, many are also using their money to buy gold, ” said Tan, who also manages a goldsmith shop.

Tan said the drop in the price of gold had also contributed to the increase in demand.

“The price of gold has dropped by about 8% this year and this has also encouraged more people to buy.

“We have customers waiting outside our shop some half an hour before we open at 10am.

“We also had to extend our operating hours from 6.30pm to 8pm for about three weeks due to the high demand, ” he said.

Johor Motor Hire Purchase and Finance Companies Association president Lum Chen Fook said the number of people buying second-hand cars has increased over the past few weeks.

“Second-hand cars that are in demand are mostly RM50,000 and below while those that are priced higher are more difficult to sell.

“Business is still slow for second-hand dealers but it has seen some improvements after the public was able to take out money from i-Sinar, ” he said.

He added that the number of ownership transfers for second-hand cars had increased by 10% to 20% since early March.