Turn canal boardwalk into alternative flea market

To some, the Sungei Road flea market, or Thieves Market, is a heritage icon with an international decades-old brand that is worth preserving ("Preserve icons that build history and define culture" by Dr Wong Wen Tsung; Feb 17).

To others, the enterprise is low-class, dirty and a thing of the past.

My family used to go there often in the 1960s. My engineer father looked for tools and repair manuals, while we children loaded up on Beano comic books, science magazines and other knick-knacks. The place was a veritable emporium.

My mother, who is in her 80s, still enjoys going there.

It is understandable that the Thieves Market is an eyesore and anachronism, if the area of Sungei Road is to be modernised ("Sungei Road flea market to make way for future homes"; Feb 15).

I am surprised that no effort was made to turn the nearby Rochor Canal boardwalk into an alternative flea market for the old-time vendors and visitors.

The planners could take a cue from the open-air booksellers by the River Seine in Paris. I have found it a very pleasant place, where visitors have the chance to browse as well as take in the river view.

Might we not do the same at the revitalised Rochor Canal?

Before we dismiss the Thieves Market as a thing of the past, it is good to remind ourselves that fortunes come and go. This is why flea markets exist and thrive even in the most modern cities.

Lai Tuck Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2017, with the headline 'Turn canal boardwalk into alternative flea market'. Print Edition | Subscribe