Pasar Tamu is for everyone, says SMC amid allegations of racial bias in FB post

(From left) Augustine, Bujang and Albert refuting the allegation.

SIBU, Sept 1: Sibu Municipal Council has refuted an allegation on social media that it was favouring a particular race by providing them with better trading lots at Pasar Tamu Taman Indah.

Market and Petty Traders Committee chairman Councillor Albert Tiang when speaking at a press conference today said the Pasar Tamu is a place for all races to do business.

“The viral message on social media is untrue as it is a one-sided view of a person who does not know the true picture of the market,” he said.

According to Tiang, the council had never considered one particular race as superior than others.

On Sunday (Aug 30), a Facebook account owner wrote that the council was discriminating against Dayak traders by allocating them trading spaces on the lawn while other races were given an unfair advantage in occupying trading lots on concrete surfaces.

“Those traders on the grass surface were non-permit traders. The council is for all people. As such, the Tamu is also for all races,” Tiang explained.

Committee deputy chairman Councillor Augustine Merikan said in late July before the tamu was relocated from Jalan Mahsuri to the new site, the council had conducted a dialogue session.

“A total of 75 traders from the previous Pasar Tamu Jalan Mahsuri attended. Of the number, five were Dayak, one Malay and the rest were Chinese. All of them were given trading permits to trade at the new site,” he said.

When the tamu started operating on Aug 1, the number of licensed traders swelled to 135.

“Due to the popularity of the tamu, non-permit Dayak traders joined two Saturdays ago. They were allowed to trade on that day only,” he added.

However, these traders continued to occupy spaces on the lawn afterwards to trade which led to some creating an issue out of it. Augustine said that the council would cement over the lawn to accommodate between 30 to 35 Dayak traders by early October.

“We have received 70 applications from Dayak traders and we will select from them soon,” he added. In the meantime, he appealed to those without trading permits to refrain from doing business there.

“During this RMCO period, we have SOP to follow. We are worried that if the tamu is too crowded, the police might close it down,” he said.

SMC deputy chairman Bujang Abdul Majid also advised people not to harbour any negative perception towards the council.

“It is the normal intention of the council to have our markets to be multi-racial for all races to do business,” he said. — DayakDaily