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On Sunday’s walkabout and sale of The New Democrat, SDP leaders were on hand to lend their support to vendors at Bukit Panjang market to stop the conversion of the premises to a supermarket. The Singapore Democrats signed a petition entitled “To preserve the only traditional wet-market of Fajar.”
Shoppers were seen signing the petition placed at several stalls as they went about their marketing. Asked why they opposed the conversion of the wet market, several of the vendors said that they feared losing their livelihoods should ownership of the stalls change.
Many of the residents felt that the wet market should remain the way it is. One commented, “We have been coming here for years. Why change something that is good?”
But while the HDB has clarified on Saturday that Sheng Shiong will not be allowed to convert the wet market into a supermarket, there is still the concern that the new owner may yet make changes that would cause the present vendors to lose their stalls.
Furthermore, how long will this agreement last? Until after the next elections?
In addition, changes could be made to the running of the market that would increase operational costs which would then be passed on to consumers. For example, Sheng Shiong does not rule out air-conditioning the wet market and turning it into a 24-hour operation.
Such moves will almost certainly increase the cost of running the facility and like all other private enterprises, Sheng Shiong will pass the cost on. It also seems likely that the vendors and cleaners would be made to work longer hours.
The Singapore Democrats have called on Dr Teo Ho Pin, MP for Bukit Panjang, to assure residents that livelihoods of the vendors will not be jeopardised and that prices will not be increased as a result of the sale of the wet market to Sheng Shiong.
SDP Chairman Mr Gandhi Ambalam sent Dr Teo a second email saying: “As an MP you need to assure residents that you will not allow the sale of the wet market to lead to increase of prices of food items and daily necessities.” (See here)
However in another terse reply Dr Teo, who didn’t even bother to exercise courtesy by addressing Mr Ambalam, avoided the subject. He simply said:
You have mistaken (sic). I have always supported my residents. This wet market was proposed by me in 1996 to serve my residents in Fajar area.
Dr Teo Ho Pin
If Dr Teo cannot give the assurance that the vendors and consumers will not be adversely affected by the sale, then the MP should state openly and clearly his opposition to the move, and call on the HDB not to approve the sale of the wet market to Sheng Shiong.