Thieves Market closure ends nightmare for resident

As a resident of the Housing Board flats beside the Sungei Road flea market, I have felt only relief after it was announced that the market would be shut down for good on July 10 ("Sungei Road flea market to make way for future homes"; Feb 15).

Many of the people whose views I have read oppose the closure.

They present a vision of the market as a charming area of Singapore that must be protected from the modernisation that has gripped the other parts of our nation.

However, having lived with the market my entire life, I cannot help but disagree with the heavily romanticised narrative presented.

The Sungei Road flea market has been a nuisance to me for years - not because of its actual operation but how it has encroached into residential space.

Many stall-holders leave their "goods" all around the estate and hawk their paraphernalia in residential pavilions.

Grimy old men hawking frayed yellow-stained books and broken toys in the pavilion have become the gate keepers to my home. Every day before I enter the lift lobby, I am careful to keep my eyes straight ahead, in fear of seeing a man relieve himself.

These "goods" are usually placed in trolleys taken from the nearby supermarket and are parked everywhere, from the void decks of HDB flats to bushes and the hawker centre.

To put it simply, it is impossible to walk a hundred metres within the area and not spot an article left behind by a flea market stall-holder.

The Thieves Market has ruined the aesthetics of the estate by making the area look messy, dodgy and filthy.

In addition, several of these stall-holders have made the residential atrium their home, sleeping on the stone benches and washing themselves at the tap under the HDB block.

It is not uncommon to spot their clothes hanging from trees near the atrium.

It may be unfair of me to base my judgment of the flea market on the actions of these people, who might constitute just the minority.

But I appeal to the public to try and appreciate the situation from a resident's perspective.

Grimy old men hawking frayed yellow-stained books and broken toys in the pavilion have become the gate keepers to my home. Every day before I enter the lift lobby, I am careful to keep my eyes straight ahead, in fear of seeing a man relieve himself.

The Sungei Road Flea Market may hold precious memories to some, but it has been nothing but a nightmare for me.

I am overjoyed that it will soon be gone.

Ang Zyn Yee (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2017, with the headline 'Thieves Market closure ends nightmare for resident'. Print Edition | Subscribe