Groups trying to save Sungei Road market express disappointment with Government's response

A group campaigning to save the Sungei Road market and the market's association have both expressed their deep disappointment with the Government's response to their petition.
A group campaigning to save the Sungei Road market and the market's association have both expressed their deep disappointment with the Government's response to their petition.ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN

SINGAPORE - A group campaigning to save the Sungei Road market, as well as the market's association, issued a joint statement on Tuesday (July 4) expressing their "deepest disappointment" with the Government's response to their petition seeking its relocation.

The statement was made in response to replies by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor in Parliament on Monday (July 3) over the fate of vendors at Sungei Road, Singapore's last free hawking zone.

She had reiterated the Government's plan to redevelop the area, which will operate for the last time on July 10, making way for future residential developments.

The group, called Save Sungei Road Market, and the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods, said none of the various assistance options presented by the National Environment Agency (NEA) are practical or sustainable for vendors.

They noted that only about 30 of 200 vendors have taken up lock-up stalls at hawker centres as "the majority are unable to afford the rent and the initial set-up costs".

They said that the reasons cited by the Government for the closure, which include disamenities and risks to public health, are best tackled via community engagement.

They also cited "some inconsistency and ambiguity" in figures cited in Parliament by Dr Khor.

The group said that its members found that not all vendors were consulted or engaged successfully by the Government, and that multiple appeal letters and alternative proposals from vendors and the public have not been considered and were only acknowledged with generic replies since 2013.

They said this leaves Dr Khor's point about the "deep engagement" the Government has conducted with vendors "open to question".

They also took issue with Dr Khor's reference to a man called "Tang Kong Yuen". Dr Khor had referred to him as the vice-president of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods and as one of the vendors who has taken up a hawker stall.

The statement quoted Mr Koh Eng Khoon, chairman of the association, as saying that there is no such position as a vice-president and that he does not know any person by this name involved with the association.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Koh reiterated that he has never met a Mr Tang Kong Yuen before.

But on Tuesday, the NEA posted on its website that latest records from the Registry of Societies showed Mr Tang Kong Yuen as the vice-president of the association.

Set up in late March, the Save Sungei Road Market group's 20 core members come from the arts, academia, heritage, IT and public relations sectors. Its Facebook page has about 2,750 likes.

The Government has said the market will not be relocated and that its decision is final.