MPP urged to explain breaking promise not to demolish stalls

Yii (third right) talking to the Kampung Bumbok villagers whose stalls along the road was demolished by MPP today.

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KUCHING: Villagers of Kampung Bumbok are demanding an official explanation after their stalls for selling vegetables and fresh produce along the road near the village were demolished by Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) today.

More than 25 villagers are seeking an explanation from MPP chairman Lo Khere Chiang whom they claimed had promised them that he would not do so.

Special Assistant to state Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen Dr Kelvin Yii urged Lo to ‘come up with an amicable settlement to allay the concerns and demands’ of these villagers.

“Their stalls were demolished by officials from MPP today after being served with an eviction notice ordering them to vacate their stalls about a month ago. These stalls were made by their own efforts and money.

“Many of these hawkers are elderly, some single mothers and many are single breadwinners of their families whose only sole income is from these roadside stalls, to earn a decent income and to put food on the table,” said Yii in a statement today.

He said he received a call from the villagers earlier this morning and went to the site to speak to the villagers.

“I was informed that YB Lo Khere Chiang and MPP had a meeting with them on July 17, 2017 regarding the eviction. They (the villagers) expressed their objection during the meeting and YB Lo Khere Chiang made a verbal promise and agreed that they could continue doing their business by the roadside outside Kampung Bumbok.

“However, a month later, the hawkers were shocked to receive a letter from MPP, dated 18 August 2017, notifying them to relocate their business to the Kampung Bumbok Community Centre (KBCC).”

The notice stated that MPP at the Special Full Council Meeting that was held on Aug 17 had made a unanimous decision on the matter, which is contrary to what was promised to the hawkers during the earlier meeting with Lo.

Yii said the hawkers felt cheated as MPP failed to keep its promise.

“They have been selling vegetable and jungle produce at the same location without any problems and to many, it is their only source of income for over 20 years.

“I even spoke to some young people among them that say they grew up and finished school due to the income their parents generated from these stalls, and it was sad to see these stalls being demolished.”

Dr Yii said the main concern of the villagers was that their business might be affected if they relocated to KBCC which was the experience of some stall holders who did try to move earlier.

“They claimed that the new location is not strategic and inconvenient for customers who needs to purposefully drive in and park their cars, rather than just buying it (vegetables and produce) on the side of the road, especially on rainy days.

“Besides that, some of the hawkers are reluctant to move because there is no proper partition to separate the halal and non-halal stalls as most of their customers are Muslim and may feel uncomfortable coming to the new location especially if there are alcohol and non- halal items being sold openly without a proper partition,” said Yii.

Yii urged Lo, who is also Batu Kitang assemblyman, to properly address the issue and listen to the voice of the villagers.