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Supermarket chain Sheng Siong has declined an invitation to meet with the Singapore Democrats, citing the reason that it is “inconvenient” to do so. The SDP had written to the company to meet with its representatives over its takeover of wet markets in Singapore.
The SDP had written to Ms Tan Ching Fern, head of Corporate Matters, asking to meet with the company’s representatives. (See here) The party wants to hear from Sheng Siong what its plans are for the markets.
Information about Sheng Siong’s plans are sketchy and confusing. The supermarket chain is reported to have said that it will not rule out changing the operations of the wet markets after acquisition, including airconditioning the facilities and turning them into 24-hour operations.
Other reports cite that the chain has promised that it will not turn the markets into airconditioned ones.
Given such contradictory reports the Singapore Democrats wanted to hear from the company itself what the real situation is.
But Ms Tan did not reply even after a follow-up email from SDP’s Chairman Gandhi Ambalam. She only indicated that the company did not want to meet after Mr Ambalam called her on the telephone.
Mr Ambalam had indicated in his email to Ms Tan that the SDP wanted to be sure that the takeover would not affect the stallholders’ livelihoods and that consumers would not be further burdened financially.
“If I do not get a response…I will conclude that Sheng Siong will not respond and does not want to engage the SDP, and by extension the shoppers. We will then proceed with our own plans accordingly.”
Now that Sheng Siong has refused to meet, the SDP can and will conclude that the company cannot give the assurance that its acquisition of the wet markets will not lead to higher costs of food items and that it also cannot assure stallholders that their livelihoods will not be affected.
For these reasons, the SDP opposes the sale of the wet markets to Sheng Siong and we will write to the Housing Board (HDB) to halt the takeover. The Straits Times reported on 22 Oct 09 that the HDB will decide in January next year whether to let the purchases go ahead.
We also call on Dr Teo Ho Pin, MP for Bukit Panjang, to do the same for the wet market at Fajar Road:
Dear Dr Teo Ho Pin,
I write to let you know that the SDP opposes the sale of the Fajar wet market to Sheng Siong. This is because the company cannot give assurances that the stallholders will not be adversely affected by the sale.
In addition, there is a very high likelihood that residents at Bukit Panjang will have to bear the increase in prices of food items after the takeover by Sheng Siong.
In view of this, the SDP opposes the sale of the Fajar market to Sheng Siong. We ask you to join us in opposing the sale. We will be writing to the HDB to not approve the transaction and call on you to do the same.
We hope that you will not equivocate on this matter, and state plainly and publicly that you oppose the takeover by Sheng Siong and will do all you can to stop the sale.
I look forward to your reply.