KUCHING, Sept 10: Barring Sibu Municipal Council’s (SMC) hawkers from leaving their goods on the market grounds overnight was like pouring salt on the wounds of the aggrieved hawkers.
Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing believed that SMC councillor Albert Tiang’s recent statement was in effect shirking the city council’s responsibility and dismissive of hawkers’ grievances.
Tiang, the standing committee chairman for Sibu’s market and petty traders, made a statement recently following a theft of the vendors’ goods in the central market, which Tiong took as a slap in the face for the hawkers’ community.
“While Tiang as councillor, is not directly responsible for this incident, he is obliged to assist the hawkers to solve their predicament. Tiang should have quickly convened all relevant authorities including the police, security company, city council and hawker associations together to discuss the next course of action and work together to prevent further recurrences to reduce the community’s burdens.
“Instead, Tiang’s thoughtless reaction was to argue that the security guards were not responsible for protecting private property but only to maintain public order by preventing fights and disputes.
“Is stealing not a violation of public order? This is the first time we have heard that security guards are not responsible to ensure the security of the premises. To say that the security guards are solely responsible to prevent fights, is Tiang implying that the central market is such an unruly place that fights happen often?” Tiong who is also President of Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) questioned.
Tiong pointed out that while it is a fact that Bintulu has provisions against hawker goods being kept in the market overnight, this should not be an excuse for the authorities to shirk their responsibilities, as similar incidents have occurred before in the Bintulu market.
“There must be strong corresponding measures, including assigning extra police to bolster the security patrols where necessary. At the same time, we had also requested Bintulu Development Authority to assist with hiring more security personnel to maintain the security. All parties should work together to create a safe and friendly environment for hawkers to do business.”
Tiong held that even if their goods could not be left overnight, the city council had to maintain its responsibility to help the affected hawkers. Furthermore, he reasoned that with sufficient lighting, the security guards should be able to monitor the market effectively during their patrols.
“I also suggest for the market to be upgraded with closed-circuit television (CCTV) facilities with wider angle lenses besides adding security personnel as improvements.
“I absolutely disagree and condemn the measures to prohibit hawkers from leaving their wares in the market overnight. This is not a solution to the problem. We need to understand the way that hawkers ply their trade.
“Some purchase their goods from far away places and can only keep them in the marketplace to sell while some sell their own crops. Carting unsold goods and produce will eat up resources to engage transport to carry them to and from the market which will also add to traffic congestion.
“I urge Tiang to use his position to help and defend the rights of the people, especially the hawkers, instead of further punishing the hawkers who are already suffering from meagre incomes for violating unhelpful regulations which actually hinder their business,” said Tiong who is also Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China. — DayakDaily