HDB responds to SDP warning, SDP calls for meeting with Teo

Singapore Democrats

The Singapore Democrats are calling for a meeting with Dr Teo Ho Pin to discuss ways to resolve the matter regarding Sheng Siong Pte Ltd’s raising of rents for the Fajar market’s stall holders. Fajar market is located in the Bukit Panjang constituency of which Dr Teo is the MP.

In the meantime, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has responded to SDP’s warning that Sheng Siong may be trying to get rid of the stallholders in order to  convert the wet markets to supermarkets. HDB has reiterated that it won’t allow the wet markets to be converted.
The SDP had issued a statement on 25 Mar 10 raising the possibility that Sheng Siong may be trying to chase out the stallholders by raising the rent to such a shocking level and then re-negotiate with the HDB to convert the facilities to supermarkets.

In response, the HDB announced yesterday that it “will not allow conversion of any of these properties from wet markets to other uses even if all the stalls are vacated.”

While we welcome HDB’s announcement, we note that the statement is too little too late. It is cold comfort for the stallholders, some of whom have had no choice but to quit their stalls as a result of the exhorbitant rent hikes. Others have to put in longer hours and lay off of workers.

All will struggle to cope with increased cost of operating their stalls which will ultimately be passed on to shoppers who are already feeling the burden of the high cost of living.

And all this for Sheng Siong to make itself richer at the expense of the common folk.

The HDB needs to do more than just say that it will not allow the wet markets to be converted to supermarkets. It must stop Sheng Siong from raising the rents by such an horrendous amount.

It cannot be argued that such a move interferes with Sheng Siong’s operations as a private company. By preventing it from converting the properties to supermarkets, the HDB is already interfering with Sheng Siong’s operations.

The HDB must stop giving excuses and step in decisively on the side of the people, not big businesses like Sheng Siong.

In the meantime, the Singapore Democrats can report that Dr Teo Ho Pin has not replied to Mr John Tan’s letter to him calling for him to speak up on the matter. Dr Teo is the MP for Bukit Panjang in which one of the Sheng Siong’s markets is located.

His stony silence is telling.

But the Singapore Democrats will continue to urge the PAP MP to speak up and help the stallholders and residents of the constituency. His inaction in this matter is most unwelcome.

Dr Teo, let’s meet

Dear Dr Teo Ho Pin,

I refer to my email dated 26 Mar 10 which you ignored. I write to you again, this time to meet so that we can discuss ways of resolving this unacceptable situation of Sheng Siong raising the rent of Fajar market stalls by 30 percent.

It has been reported that some of the vendors have quit their stalls. Others have to put in longer hours and have laid off workers. Clearly this is a situation that warrants our attention and intervention.

My colleagues and I at the Singapore Democratic Party would like to meet with you sometime next week to discuss ways to resolve the matter.

I would be grateful for your immediate response and a suggestion of a time and place for the meeting. Thank you.

John Tan
Assistant Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party

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