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The Singapore Democrats today descended upon the constituency of Bukit Panjang to help residents there campaign against plans to convert the wet market at Fajar Road into a supermarket by the Sheng Shiong chain.
Members met with residents and shoppers, distributing flyers on why the wet market should not be privatised and converted into a supermarket.
The SDP expressed its concern that the sale of the market to Sheng Shiong will increase the cost of operating the facility, thereby increasing prices for shoppers.
Even though the HDB has said that the wet market will not be converted into a supermarket, concerns remain that the takeover by Sheng Shiong will cause the stallholders to become lessees of the new landlord.
The new owner might also implement plans to do away with indivdual vendors in which case the current stallholders will all lose their livelihoods. The vendors will then have to seek employment from Sheng Shiong and they will, like everything else in Singapore, have to compete with foreign workers for meagre wages.
There is also no guarantee that Sheng Shiong will not increase the rental of the stalls. In fact there is every likelihood that, being a private enterprise, the supermarket chain will look to maximise its profits to justify its investment.
This can only mean that prices will increase for consumers.
For these reasons, the SDP opposes the privatisation of the wet markets. Unless Sheng Shiong can guarantee that its operations will not lead to any increase in prices for shoppers, the premises should not and must not be privatised.
Throughout this episode, MP for Bukit Panjang has remained silent, preferring to bury his head in the sand. SDP wrote to Dr Teo, asking him to take a stand and support the people. (See SDP’s letter to Dr Teo here)
The MP replied with a one-liner: “Residents in Fajar area prefer a wet market and I have conveyed their preferences to HDB. Thanks for your concern.”
Dr Teo must understand that he is a Member of Parliament, not the postal service. We are asking him to take a stand on the issue and not just convey the residents’ message to the HDB. He needs to state clearly his position on whether he supports the privatisation of the Fajar wet market.
The SDP contested in the single-member ward in the 2006 general elections and has been continuing its groundwork in the constituency since then in preparation for the next elections.
SDP Chairman Mr Gandhi Ambalam has sent Dr Teo a follow-up email, asking the MP to not to dance around the issue and clearly state his stand on the matter:
State your stand clearly
12 October 2009
Dr Teo Ho Pin MP
I read with dismay your response to my email of 8 October 2009 asking you to support the residents of Bukit Panjang by not allowing the privatisation of the Fajar wet market that will result in the increase of market prices.
Your reply that you have simply conveyed the residents’ views to HDB is a cop out. What the residents want is your unequivocal support that their livelihoods will not be jeopardised and that pricess will not be increased as a result of the sale of the wet market to Sheng Shiong.
An MP represents the views and interests of his constituents. All you have done is to be a postman. Surely residents of Bukit Panjang deserve better – an MP who is willing to stand up for them, not one who simply conveys messages.
We call on you to pull your head out the sand even as this controversy rages on. 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.
I look forward to your response.
Singapore Democratic Party