"Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that."
Norman Vincent Peale
Sekinchan Ikan Bakar Restaurant chain owner Jamal Md Yunus, who is also a luxury car dealer and is organising the protest in front of Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan's house tomorrow and on Friday, insists that he remains a petty trader.
Jamal, who is president of the Kuala Lumpur Petty Traders Council (MBPKL), said he still holds a licence for a stall on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (TAR) in Kuala Lumpur.
"I was a petty trader, operating on the sidewalk 25 years ago. My trading licence for the Jalan TAR night market is valid to this day... and I have been maintaining the licence," Jamal said.
Pressed again if he truly was operating a stall at Jalan TAR, where most of the action during the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally for electoral reform took place, Jamal said he owns many different businesses.
"This is the same for my friends. All of them are entrepreneurs. We can't just have one business," he said.
At a press conference yesterday, Jamal said he believes petty traders can grow with the right support, but rallies like the ones by Bersih hindered their development.
"Like me. I am selling cars, and so on, but I still couldn't do business during the first, second and third Bersih rallies," he said.
Jamal was responding to queries on why he was leading the protest involving 60 petty traders, who intend to open stalls in front of Ambiga's house to protest alleged losses incurred due to the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally.
His critics say Jamal is no petty trader, for he owns a large restaurant chain and holds a permit to import luxury cars.
'Do set up shop in front of my restaurant'
His critics also claimed that Jamal had 'guaranteed' returns to the petty traders who intended to set up shop in front of Ambiga's house tomorrow and on Friday.
Some have also threatened to boycott his businesses and to set up stalls in front of his restaurants in retaliation.
One Facebook page has posted photos of Jamal with Ferrari cars and proposes to open 'car dealerships' in front of the Sekincan Ikan Bakar chain restaurants in protest.
"It's up to them, but just don't block the road. If they want to do so, go ahead, but be prepared to face the consequences later...
"Actually, it's good if they do so. Do come, but don't enter the restaurants. Just set up shop outside," Jamal said in response.
He rejected claims that Umno was backing the anti-Bersih protest and insisted that he and the petty traders were doing this purely because they sustained losses during the Bersih rally.
"We are traders, neither the government nor any politician is behind us. This man here is a businessman, I am a businessman. Our businesses were affected by the illegal rally.
"We were silent before but we can no longer keep our silence. Or else, there will be yet another Bersih rally," Jamal added.