Morning market traders protest outside Komtar

Lai-Kong-HooiGEORGE TOWN: Some 40 traders from a famous morning market here protested outside Komtar today, demanding that the chief minister intervene after they were forced out of the marketplace.

Kuala Kangsar Road (KK) traders representative Lai Kong Hooi led the group of protesters amid the presence of military guards.

Lai said the traders had resorted to the protest as their earlier requests had fallen on deaf ears.

“It is true, orang miskin tak ada tempat di Pulau Pinang (poor people have no place in Penang).

“Because they (the government) do not care. Even the local YB here no use, he geleng geleng kepala (shakes head) only, he also does not care,” he said when met by reporters outside Komtar.

Lai said the KK market was a unique and intangible heritage as locals had bought their produce, meat and other items there for more than a hundred years.

He added that tourists were also keen on visiting such morning markets which were featured in many tourist guide books.

“From an international standard pasar pagi (morning market), we have been downgraded to a local market that you can find anywhere. By breaking us up, we are nothing. You have killed us all,” Lai said.

Those protesting were among the nearly 90 traders who did not get a spot inside the recently renovated Chowrasta Market.

Kuala Kangsar Road, located next to the market, was traditionally a spillover area for those who did not get a spot in Chowrasta.

The KK market was primarily a morning market and usually ceased business operations by early noon.

Two months ago, the 90 traders were offered a spot on a smaller side road next to the market. But they said the place was not favourable as it was too small and had fewer people passing through.

Lai said the new place offered at Chowrasta Road was too small and offered no shade from direct sunlight.

He said the Penang Island City Council should restore their original trading place at Kuala Kangsar Road.

He also suggested an allowance similar to that given to food traders at New Lane on Macalister Road.

“If you can give New Lane allowance, why not here? We only trade five to six hours every day.

“The new place is too hot. Some of the traders have fallen sick or have turned a few shades darker.

“We still feel that asking us to move out was a bad decision, despite us telling the city council we did not want to,” he said.

Meanwhile, city secretary Yew Tung Seang said the relocation had only been made after numerous rounds of discussion with the traders.

He said a Badan Warisan survey had recommended the roadside traders be shifted inside.

“Sixty-eight traders shifted into the complex and the side road (Chowrasta Road). Business is very good, they are quite happy.

“There are people for the shift, there are people against it. Some shops don’t want stalls in front of the shops,” Yew said.

The city council’s alternate chairman on licensing, Ong Ah Teong, was previously quoted as saying that only 112 of the 200 morning market traders were allowed a spot in the Chowrasta Market.

He said the council had selected the traders after observing their business patterns for 30 days. They were required to be open for at least 20 days a month to qualify.

The new Chowrasta Market has 289 stalls. It is open daily from 5am to 10pm and has 125 parking bays.