Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) Dr Chee Soon Juan said on Saturday (Oct 31) that there was more to the closure of Robinsons than just Covid-19.

“Reports say that it is Covid-19 and online buying that has killed the once proud business. But there’s more to it than just the pandemic and e-commerce”, Dr Chee wrote.

In a Facebook post, the SDP Chief continued: “It’s called rent. High rental in Singapore is killing businesses”.

The closure of Robinsons’ last two department stores at The Heeren and Raffles City Shopping Centre was announced on Friday.

After more than 160 years operating in Singapore, the decision to fold came on the back of changing retail buying patterns and weak demand made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, said the company.

Citing retail brands and companies such as John Little, MPH, Forever 21, Crabtree & Evelyn, Sasa, and O&G companies such as Subsea 7, McDermott, Technip, and Saipem, Dr Chee said that they all cited cost as the main factor for their closure.

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He added that many banks in Singapore have trimmed their operations because “as observers note, Singapore “is an extremely expensive place to do business”.

“Cathay Organisation’s executive director, Ms Choo Meileen, pointed out that the high costs of development drive up rent. “It is not the landlord who is the beneficiary of all these fees and costs, it is the Government””, Dr Chee wrote.

He added: “Between HDB, JTC, CapitaLand, Mapletree, and Surbana, the government is the biggest landlord”.

Dr Chee wrote that “If Singaporeans don’t push ourselves out from under it, hard as it is, the sun will continue to set on this country”, adding that the SDP has drawn up an alternative economic vision, ideas for Singapore. /TISG