It has been a year since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over as the leading party that governs Malaysia. It was a historic moment on 9 May 2019 as this was the first time there was a change in government since Malaysia’s independence in 1957.

Now, as the hype and excitement has calmed down, small businesses are beginning to feel the strain from tighter regulations, stringent environmental compliance standards, and labour market reform under Pakatan Harapan’s first year in power.

Datuk Michael Kang Hua Keong, said in an interview in April that PH’s reforms were rushed into place without fully considering the consequences that small businesses might face.

As a result, smaller firms have struggled to comply with the “first world” standards that are more suited for larger organisations. Consequently, the increased operating costs that the reforms brought is straining on small businesses with lower budgets.

“A lot of them are still what we call backyard industry. They don’t have the capacity like those in the first world, so all these new regulations is very costly especially for the micro and small businesses whose profit margin tend to be very low”, Datuk Kang told the Malay Mail.

Despite PH’s efforts to spur SME growth, which included a RM17.9 billion boost, micro industries are still struggling as they require a supportive ecosystem to thrive. Microenterprises account for approximately 70 percent of Malaysian SMEs and employs the most number of workers at around seven million staff.

Datuk Kang states that PH administration’s move to tighten regulations such as licencing, health and environmental certification, or impose a minimum wage and block foreign worker recruitment has hurt small businesses the most.

Simply put, small enterprises can’t afford to meet the standards that PH is demanding of SMEs. Some have had to resort to layoffs just to stay within their budget while barely keeping up with the infrastructural demands of the government.

“We support the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and we believe in his idea of Malaysia Incorporated. But we need a clear and supportive policy. We want the government to listen, to heed our advice and not just listen to third parties, or socialists”, said Datuk Kang.