By INS Contributors
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia-The business module of Perwira Niaga Malaysia (Pernama) has to be aggressively revamped, to attract more Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families to patronise its retail outlets.
Making the clarion call, retired Royal Malaysian Air Force Warrant Officer II Jit Singh Jassal said serious changes had to be adopted by Pernama at its retail outlets, in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s ‘Malaysia Madani’ concept to empower the marginalised society.
“The unity government, under the current prime minister, is strongly advocating Anwar’s aspiration of developing Malaysia through the Madani programme aimed at laying out a framework for a civilized, skilled and inclusive society.
“Hence, it is only appropriate that agencies under the Armed Forces Superannuation Fund (LTAT) follow suit by restructuring and rejuvenating Pernama for better and greater growth of the nation’s economy,” said Jit, who will turn 74 on March 13.
He added that Pernama took off well in 1983, after taking over the business from the British NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institute), with its vibrant theme of 'Born to serve, built to last’.
NAAFI, established during the British administration, was later taken over by LTAT on July 7, 1983 and renamed Pernama.
“It cannot be denied that Pernama reaped huge profits over the first three decades.
“Sadly, its existence the last two decades appears to be threatened, owing to a lack-lustre business acumen.
“We have noticed that sales of its products (other than beer) the last 20 years do not seem encouraging, and failed to attract soldiers and veterans,” said Jit, who moves around with prosthetics in a wheelchair and walker after having both legs amputated below the knee due to severe diabetes in 2015.
Jit had served the RMAF for 22 years as an air traffic controller (ATC), before retiring in 1992 as an ATC examiner.
He drove a taxi for more than 20 years to supplement his pension, until he lost his legs.
Jit recalled how Pernama in its earlier years generously participated in social activities involving the various races, at the officer’s and sergeant’s messes.
“Unfortunately, the ambience is different these days.
“If we were to visit Pernama outlets nowadays, there is nothing to shout about with its outlook and goods displayed.
“There is hardly anyone around to greet and chat with us, unlike the past good-old days – not to mention its unattractive merchandise, groceries and sundries,” said Jit.
To give Pernama a revamp, Jit said the veterans gave a few suggestions to make it a more attractive shopping outlet.
“We propose that LTAT engage an investor who can change the present concept to make Pernama more competitive, by roping in several new big hypermarket players like Lotus’s, Aeon, Giant and many more.
“There should be an on-line delivery service with the latest technology.
“Bring back the duty-free non-alcoholic goods (local and foreign) like how NAFFI used to provide before.
“Make available fresh vegetables and poultry products, and have joint-ventures with fast-food chains,” said Jit.
Additionally, the veterans proposed for the monthly ration of duty-free beer to be increased by double the number, from the present 48 units (cans/bottles) per person.
“There are a large number of non-muslim veterans who indulge in wines, spirits and liquor as well.
“Make these items available duty-free for them, as it will bring additional revenue and boost the overall business for Pernama,” said Jit, adding that Pernama’s business hours ought to be extended till late evening to cater for the masses.
He called on Pernama to also consider offering motor-vehicle loans at very attractive rates.