Chong (seated, third right) and Liew (standing, first right) during the dialogue session with the hawkers last Thursday
KUCHING: Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) has taken over the management of the popular hawkers’ market taking place every Thursday and Friday at the MJC Batu Kawa New Township here.
Its chairman Lo Khere Chiang said this took effect since end of June which means other companies do not have the right to collect fees from the hawkers anymore as what it used to be before this.
He confirmed MPP has sent a notice to terminate the services of a company which previously managed the market, which is located side by side to the farmers’ market previously managed by Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA).
Since the decision has been made, he called on others especially opposition parties not turn the issue into their political agenda but to respect MPP’s decision.
“We no longer require the service (of that company). It has nothing to do with charges, we have terminated his (the company’s proprietor) services. He has no right to collect fees or have any dealing with the hawker centre, and no right to interfere with the management of the hawker centre.
“The fact is that the council has taken over the management of the market. This was decided during the council meeting, it was not my decision alone,” he said when contacted yesterday.
Lo was asked to respond to allegations made by DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen that MPP had been unfair in terminating the services of Triple S Marketing which previously managed the market.
According to him again, the hawkers there can continue to trade in the usual manner but they are only answerable to MPP and not to Triple S Enterprise.
“The management of this market is now completely under MPP, no other company. The council will charge the fees accordingly including for the license and charges for cleaning up the area,” said Lo, who was elected as Batu Kitang assemblyman in the recent state election.
Earlier at a press conference held at DAP Sarawak headquarters, Chong and the Triple S Enterprise proprietor Liew Ngian Chin questioned the motive for MPP to take over the management of the market.
They said the market has made MJC a more vibrant place since Triple S Enterprise managed it in the past 10 years, but MJC decided to take over just when the market is becoming very popular.
Chong told reporters that based on a dialogue session with the hawkers last Thursday, most of these hawkers are happy with Triple S Marketing which charged only RM5 per day.
He said there were 120 hawkers who were managed under Triple S Marketing, while there were 250 hawkers previously under FAMA.
He also said that the hawkers were worried that the charges would be higher and they would be forced to trade more than two days per week, as what was imposed on them when a company appointed by MPP charged them RM19 per day and told them to trade five days a week at a relocated site last year.
“My question to MPP and its chairman Lo is this – What is the purpose of MPP taking over the management, and is MPP going to manage or sub contract it to another company?
“What will happen when MPP takes over the management? Is it going to maintain at RM5 per day or is it going to be increased like what happened in last year’s attempted takeover? If MPP takes over, they should reduce the rates or otherwise this loses the purpose.
“In my view, when MPP makes decision affecting the hawkers, MPP should respect their wishes and consult them even though these hawkers are not rich and powerful,” said Chong.
Chong also alleged that the MPP’s decision was out of revenge due to some of the hawkers openly supported Liu Thian Leong, who stood as independent candidate in Batu Kawa state seat in the recent state election.
Lo is from SUPP, while party president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian won the Batu Kawa seat by wresting the seat back from DAP in a three-cornered contest.
Based on previous news reports, Liu – who was formerly UPP Batu Kawa chairman – had been actively helping these hawkers and was instrumental in enabling them to continue trading at the present site. Liu quit the party to contest as an independent candidate in Batu Kawa.