Dr Balakrishnan calls on WP to clean hawker centre and apologise to hawkers

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan has said that the Workers' Party (WP) should clean up the hawker centres under their charge and apologise to the hawkers involved in a long-running dispute over the cleaning of hawker centres in Aljunied GRC.

Only once the cleaned hawker centres have been inspected would he sit down for a meeting with WP chief Low Thia Khiang, said Dr Balakrishnan on Tuesday.

"At that point, I will be happy to invite Mr Low Thia Khiang for a cup of coffee with me," he said to reporters, adding that the meeting would also have to involve the hawkers.

Dr Balakrishnan was responding to the statement by the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) on Monday, where town council vice-chairman Pritam Singh invited the minister to a dialogue with the WP MPs "to settle any outstanding matters".

Mr Singh also charged Dr Balakrishnan with perpetuating divisive politics after he suggested on Sunday that Mr Singh was being untruthful. Hawkers from two markets in Bedok North and NEA have said that the hawkers were asked to pay extra for the cleaning of high areas, but Mr Singh and AHPETC have denied repeatedly that this was the case.

That has been a sticking point in a dispute which flared after one of the markets was not cleaned in March when no scaffolding was erected.

On Tuesday, Dr Balakrishnan said he stood by his comments. "At this point in time, my advice to the Workers' Party will be clean up the place, apologise to the hawkers," he said.