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Don’t mistreat hawkers, urges Chong

 | August 16, 2013

Sarawak DAP alleges that the state government is kicking around the hawkers facing eviction from Petanak Market like a ball.

KUCHING: Sarawak DAP has slammed the state government for “kicking the 200 hawkers around like a ball” in their move to evict them from Petanak Market, which will be demolished to facilitate the Kuching waterfront extension project.

“They should not treat the hawkers this way in the name of development,” state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said when commenting on the government’s plan to demolish the 27-year-old market for the waterfront project.

The project involves massive land reclamation along the Sarawak River.

Chong, who is the MP for Bandar Kuching, said these hawkers moved into the Petanak Market from other wet markets, including those from Padungan Road and Gambier Road wet markets in 1986 and 2008, respectively.

“During the initial period, the hawkers suffered as business was bad. But now after a few decades, the people in this area have gotten used to shopping for their groceries in this area.

“Now that business is sustainable, the government suddenly announced that it plans to build the Kuching waterfront project and the hawkers are forced to look for a new place and start from scratch,” he said.

He added that development of the country should not only benefit the people with connection, but also the people on the streets, including the hawkers.

“Often, the development of an area in Sarawak is at the expense of the people. We urge the government not to demolish the market and the surrounding areas because that is the only market in the Kuching City.

“The market can co-exist with the project just like in big cities like in Singapore to serve the surrounding population. What is important is that it must not disrupt the livelihood of the hawkers,” he said.

On Kuching South City Council mayor James Chan’s remark that the opposition should not interfere with projects carried out by the council, Chong refuted that it was an interference.

“Chan must have forgotten that he implemented the policies and if the polices go wrong, the opposition and the ruling party have every right to criticise and comment, and even to the extent of stopping the implementation of the project.

“He should reserve such comment for his family business as council business is public business,” said Chong.


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