Press Statement By Chong Chieng Jen:
This morning, I visited the 7th Mile Market and the 3rd Mile Market, to listen to their feedbacks and understand their predicaments in the aftermath of the Market Closure Order issued by the Majlis Perbandaran Padawan from 3.9.2021 to 8.9.2021 (6 days).
In this extraordinary time of hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, before the authorities issue such a blanket Closure Order on markets for 6 days, the authorities should give serious consideration to the suffering of the hawkers trading in these markets. Livelihood of hundreds, including their family members is affected by such closure orders.
The authorities seem to be very trigger-happy in issuing such Close-Market Order. When there is some Covid positive cases, notwithstanding that the others were negative to the Covid tests and have no symptoms, the authorities would issue a blanket close-market order.
This is tantamount to closing down a whole commercial area when some traders or their workers in a few of the shops were tested positive to Covid test.
Even in the cases of some employees of the Council were tested positive, not the whole Council Office were closed down for 6 days. It was only a particular section of the Council Office were closed and for a much shorter period. If I remember correctly, some time ago, in the case of MBKS, there was a notice that it only closed for 2 days.
Furthermore, such blanket closure order is also contrary to the notion of endemic or “living with Covid” which is the current direction the government is heading towards.
Though the traders in the Council’s markets are tenants of the Council and trade at the mercy of the Council, the Council should not be so haphazard in issuing the Market Closure Orders.
Everyone can accept the fact that there should be strict SOPs applicable to both the hawkers and the patrons to the markets, eg, only for those vaccinated, normal body temperature, mask-wearing, etc., but the drastic act of closing the whole market when there were only a few infected persons may not be an appropriate act.
In the premises, I hope the Council can be more prudent and considerate to the suffering of the hawkers in future in dealing this matter. The Council’s every decision has a huge impact on the livelihood of the people, and thus it should be exercised properly and with care and consideration.
Chong Chieng Jen
ADUN for Kota Sentosa