MBKS mayor denies attempts made to remove Padungan durian hawkers’ canopies

Wee speaking to reporters during a press conference at the MBKS Council Chamber in Kuching on May 16, 2024.

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, May 16: Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng has clarified that MBKS enforcement officers never attempted to dismantle the canopies of durian hawkers at the Padungan Seasonal Fruit market.

The mayor stated that the canopies are still up, and the stalls are still open for business.


“What is important is that I believe one article stated that on May 10, our officers went down to attempt to dismantle the canopies.

“That we need to clarify, that is not true. We went down there to serve the notice. I don’t know how they see that as an attempt to dismantle the canopies,” he told reporters during a press conference today at the MBKS Council Chamber here.

“As you can actually see, the canopies are still there. So, even though we say that we are only giving them (the durian hawkers) a week (notice to cease trading within seven days from the date of the notice), in actual fact it all started last year.

“I am sure those who have been following the news are aware that we have served notice. So, given that time and giving them another place to trade, I believe the council has done their part.”

The mayor further advised the various politicians advocating for the needs of a single durian stall to consider the city’s broader concerns in urban planning rather than devoting so much of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly’s (DUS) time and energy to a minor operational issue that only affects a small number of citizens.

On May 13, Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen moved a private member’s motion in DUS to direct MBKS to review the latter’s decision on the fate of a local durian hawker. In the motion of Definite Matter of Urgent Public Importance, Chong recounted the incident leading to his action.

On May 14, DUS Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar rejected the motion filed by Chong. The former ruled that the motion, though definite, was not urgent and of no public importance—three requirements which must all be satisfied by any motion filed under Standing Order 15.

“At MBKS, we continue to adopt the ‘people-friendly approach’ of Datuk Song Swee Guan. But we must ensure that the needs of ‘the people’ outweigh the needs of a single hawker.

“MBKS will continue to engage with this hawker through the proper channels. But in the meantime, I believe enough focus and attention has been put on this lone stall. The DUS should be addressing more important concerns than this operational issue that only affects one hawker,” Wee explained.

Meanwhile, in response to the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Kuching branch’s proposal for MBKS to temporarily halt the relocation of durian hawkers in Padungan and the need for a long-term plan, Wee stated that the decision was made collectively.

“Remember, the council is backed by councillors and the administration on the management side. It’s a collective decision. Neither is it from the mayor alone or by the management alone, no. So they (SUPP Kuching) have their councillor there.

“If a decision is made, respect the decision. Alright, especially if you are in there (SUPP Kuching).

“You cannot come here as a representative, as a point of post, we make a decision, you agree, and on the other hand, you don’t agree. I think I’m talking more about political principles,” the mayor asserted.

Wee also said a standing committee indicates that decisions are made through a structured process involving discussions, procedures, and understanding among committee members. — DayakDaily