Gambier Street Market, Move or Not? Leave it to the Court

I have today filed in an administrative action in the High Court of Kuching agaisnt Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara and Majlis Bandaraya Kuching Selatan seeking leave of the Court to quash the decision of DBKU to relocate the Gambier Street Market (GSM) to Stutong Market.

The grounds are:
1. The notice to relocate is too short. These hawkers have been trading in the GSM for decades yet the government is giving them 1 month to be relocated to another market.
2. The decision of the government to relocate the hawkers to Stutong Market is irrational and unreasonable. Thousands in the central business district of Kuching will have no market to do their marketing. Kuching will lose its historical landmark if the market were to be closed down and demolished. Hundreds of sampan operators will lose their main source of income.
3. The government based the relocation decision on the wrong facts, thinking that most of the hawkers are willing to be relocated. In fact, most of them do not want to be relocated. It was the way question was put to them by DBKU officers that it seems that they are agreeable to move. The DBKU officers asked the question as follows: "If the government were to close down the GSM, will you want a stall in Stutong Market?" This is a leading question and the answer is what the authority wants.

Another ground that was not inserted in the Court papers is that given the recent price hike in petrol and diesel, the authority should not now try to introduce such radical change of life to these hawkers. These hawkersy have been trading in GSM for decades. It means that the business there is good. To build up the customer base is not easy and surely it is made worse by the current economic situation.

My assistant, Wong King Wei, is now in Kuala Lumpur. Having got the Application filed and sealed by the Court Registry, we have to serve it on the Federal Attorney General as required by the law and it has to be served not later than 3 days before the hearing of the Application, which is fixed on 11-6-2008.

Whether we can get leave to proceed with the action against DBKU and MBKS, it is now up to the Court.