MBKS mayor urges Padungan rep to not twist facts for publicity in Padungan Seasonal Fruit Market issue

Wee (left) speaking to reporters after witnessing the completion of the Bintawa Hawker Centre project and the handover of the certificate held at the Bintawa Hawker Centre in Kuching on Dec 19, 2023.

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, Dec 19: Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng has called on Padungan assemblyman-cum-Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen not to twist the issue of the Padungan Seasonal Fruit Market hawkers for the sake of publicity, and to refrain from making false accusations against him that could lead to misunderstandings.

Wee stressed that as a leader, a representative, or someone who writes for the people, they must have a certain degree of responsibility for their remarks.


“Do not mislead (the general public). When we see problems, the most important thing to us is to solve them. However, do not distort the truth.

“I believe a lot of the things he (Chong) said were twisted and presented as something different from the actual facts. Of course, some people want to use a certain topic to create publicity, but I think we need to clarify this because we want more people to understand the real situation.

“Has the mayor been so heartless up until today? Has the mayor been merely putting on a show until today? The mayor is sincerely dedicated to serving the people,” he told reporters after witnessing the completion of the Bintawa Hawker Centre project and the handover of the certificate held today at the Bintawa Hawker Centre here.

He continued: “Until today, the mayor has not taken any leave. I’ve been working since 2019 and I’m dedicated to serving the people.”

Wee further clarified that the letter Chong sent to the Council regarding the issue of the Padungan Seasonal Fruit Market hawkers was only received yesterday.

“They said they came to us and wrote to us, but we did not reply. Their letter was actually received yesterday, not last week. That is one point. Second point, I didn’t meet them yesterday. YB Chong contacted me around 7am, informing me that he and the hawkers would be coming to meet me.

“I said that my schedule was jam-packed with carrying out tasks outside, attending conferences, and so on. As a result, if there are any issues, you can simply send a letter to the Council, which I will read.

“So Chong saying that I rejected meeting them (in Chong’s statement) is twisted. Because when we talked on WhatsApp he said okay. Okay means he agreed to send in the letter. Of course we also received the letter. But according to what they said on the 16th, they appealed to us but we would not accept. I think this is wrong. Because you have never appealed,” he claimed.

He went on to say that last Thursday (Dec 14) during the Christmas lighting of the White Cat statue in Padungan, a hawker from the Padungan Seasonal Fruit Market came to see him.

Wee also claimed that he informed the hawker directly that the Council intends to beautify the Padungan Seasonal Fruit Market area and offered to relocate their business to Tabuan Jaya.

“So how can you call this as cutting off people’s livelihoods?”

Furthermore, he mentioned that the Padungan Seasonal Fruit Market operates with a temporary permit. He also added that the permit allows the market to be open from 12pm to 12am.

“In addition, the canopies must be approved by us. So, after selling, clean up, keep the canopies, and leave. However, what you see now at the fruit market is that they sell, serve, and let customers eat the fruits there.

“Hence, I think it’s time for some changes. Because if we don’t take action, you say we don’t do our job, if we take action, you say we are heartless, then what should we do?”

The mayor also stated that he has received complaints from other fruit merchants that they must rent a shop to sell their fruits rather than selling at the seasonal fruit market, which is less expensive to rent, and from the general public that the canopies near the White Cat statue do not provide a pleasing backdrop when visitors and tourists take photos at the White Cat statue.

He also remarked that the canopies occupy the entire parking area, resulting in limited parking space.

“On Nov 29, our officers instructed the hawkers to dismantle the canopies as they had added two additional small 10×10 blue canopies. The hawkers had also hung banners there, which is against our policy. The officers also informed them that the fruit market area would be beautified and offered them the opportunity to relocate their business to Tabuan Jaya.”

Wee continued: “So don’t issue these statements before understanding the whole situation. Also, saying the Council forced the hawkers is not right as well. We hope that this will no longer be a problem because we have offered the hawkers the opportunity to relocate their businesses.” — DayakDaily