SMC hits back at Tiong for unfair criticisms over market thefts

SMC chairman councillor Clarence Ting

KUCHING, Sept 11: Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Clarence Ting viewed the criticisms from Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing over the theft issue at Sibu Central Market as unfair as if to say that the SMC had neglected its duties.

Ting said he was surprised by the statement from the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president who has his members in the Market and Petty Traders (MPT) committee and singling out a councillor for stating a fact that the security at the market was to monitor SMC properties especially from vandalism.

“Traders know (that) their goods left at the Central Market are at their own risk. But (for) an (elected representative) to make an issue public(ly) as though SMC has neglected our duty.

“MPT chairman Albert Tiang had already on Saturday said that he will fight for galvanised grill (to be installed) for the whole Central Market to increase security.

“But this party president (Tiong) chose to ignore this fact, (and) instead blamed one councillor while it was a committee decision in which his party members are a part of,” he said in his Facebook post today.

Ting was commenting on the remarks from Tiong yesterday (Sept 10) who described SMC measures to bar hawkers from leaving their goods on the market grounds overnight as ‘pouring salt on the wounds of the aggrieved hawkers’.

Noting that the traders falling victim to theft and suffering losses was an unfortunate incident, Ting further assured that SMC is still investigating this case and trying to find out if it was an isolated and targeted case.

“On the CCTV, the perpetrator was seen coming straight to the stall to cart away seven crates while leaving neighbouring stalls untouched.

“A police report has been made (and) we are leaving (it to the police) to investigate the case. That’s why I have refrained from commenting. SMC is also conducting our own internal investigation,” he explained.

With the traders blaming SMC for the lax security, he added that the committee had discussed and decided to advise traders not to leave their valuable goods at the Central Market as SMC’s security services were not responsible for the traders’ losses.

Ting thus emphasised that matters related to local councils should not be politicised as they were appointed to serve the people regardless of race, creed, religion, belief and political affiliation.

Meanwhile, SMC announced on Aug 3 that they will soon strictly enforce the rule for hawkers or traders to not keep their goods overnight at their stalls after the day’s trading following complaints of thefts due to lack of security at the marker.

Tiang had then said that SMC was not to be blamed for the recent thefts as it was already stated in the hawkers’ licence terms that they must not leave their goods overnight.

Yesterday, Tiong in a statement said that he felt that Tiang’s recent statement was in effect shirking the city council’s responsibility and dismissive of hawkers grievances.

He added that Tiang as a councillor, while not directly responsible for this incident, was obliged to assist the hawkers to solve their predicament.

He said 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 recurrences to reduce the community’s burdens.—DayakDaily