Low Thia Khiang on hawker centre cleaning dispute: Let's move on

Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang has called for all parties involved in the long-running dispute over hawker centre cleaning in Aljunied GRC to move on and give the hawkers peace to do their business.

Commenting for the first time on the saga, Mr Low said the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) will continue to work with the National Environment Agency (NEA) "to solve problems on the ground and to address the issues".

"We should move on from the current issue," he told The Straits Times on Wednesday night. "I would expect the town council to continue to work with NEA for environmental issues on the ground, be it market hygiene, cleanliness, be it littering, be it the dengue fever issue, be it midges at Bedok Reservoir issues," added Mr Low, the MP for Bedok Reservoir-Punggol division in Aljunied GRC.

Mr Low's comments came a day after Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan asked WP to clean up the hawker centres under its charge and apologise to the hawkers involved in the dispute. Only after the hawker centres are clean and inspected would he meet Mr Low, together with the hawkers.

Asked for his response to Dr Balakrishnan on Wednesday, Mr Low said: "I would like to move on. So let's move on. And I think the hawkers need, very much, peace to do their business."

At the centre of the dispute is the question of whether hawkers from two markets in Aljunied GRC were asked to pay extra charges for the cleaning of high areas. Hawkers and NEA have said that this was so, while AHPETC has denied that the hawkers were asked to pay more. Asked if he would go down to speak to the hawkers, Mr Low reiterated his wish to move on and said: "Whatever it is, the town council will have to do what is necessary."