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Status quo can't remain as nation progresses

In the early years of post-independence Singapore, many farmers had to close their farms, and the Government went to great lengths to help them transit to becoming hawkers.

Now, as our nation progresses, the Sungei Road market has to move on and it is difficult to justify its continued existence (Groups trying to save Sungei Road market express disappointment with Government's response; ST Online, July 4).

Members of the public may pass comments about the market, but they do not share in the problems and inconvenience that the market brings to residents of that area.

I feel that the crux of the matter lies in the efforts that have been made to support the flea market operators in transiting to the next phase. 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".

Could more have been done to help them? Were alternative but practical options offered to them? If they could have earned a living through other work, what would it have been? Are they genuine cases? We cannot help those who do not want to be helped and who do not want to explore other possibilities beyond the status quo.

My friends and I have wondered why people are unhappy despite our economic progress and a good and safe environment. Perhaps people are lamenting the loss of the human touch over the years.

The Sungei Road market is Singapore's last free hawking zone. Perhaps more could be done to help those vendors ease into a new phase of life.

Felix Kim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 09, 2017, with the headline 'Status quo can't remain as nation progresses'. Print Edition | Subscribe