Just and sympathetic solution of the hawker problem in Kuala Lumpur

Adjournment Speech by DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Ra’ayat on Tuesday, 18th January 1972

Just and sympathetic solution of the hawker problem in Kuala Lumpur

For the last three years, the hawkers and petty traders in the Kuala Lumpur Municipality have been harassed and hounded by the Municipal authorities, in particular the green-uniformed Enforcement Squad.

Recently, these anti-hawker activities were intensified, presumably because of the forthcoming PATA Conference, so that the PATA delegates will get the impression that in Kuala Lumpur everyone is well-to-do and gainful employed.

Sir, this is deception to say the least. It is just like what we see in Jalan Bungsar now, where the authorities concerned have put up a wooden wall to hide from the sight of PATA delegates the ghastly sight of the squalid quarters of the Jalan Bungsar railway workers. The thing to do would have been to demolish all the ugly, squalid quarters of the railway employees to give them decent, humanly fit dwellings. Instead, the authorities concerned decided to deceive the PATA delegates instead, and let the railway employees continue in their squalid quarters.

Similarly, the hawkers problem should not be treated as a criminal problem, but as a socio-economic, human problem. The way to solve it is not by hounding the hawkers and petty traders, but by meeting their socio-economic demands for a means of livelihood.

At the rate the Enforcement Squad are going about their work, it would appear that it is a crime to be a hawker. The hawkers regardless of whether men or women, are manhandled, their wares smashed. No wonder they are regarded as Municipal robbers.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, nobody loves to be a hawker, and be hounded by the Enforcement Squad. But circumstances of making a living, of supporting their family, forces the people to be a hawker, and this deep socio-economic problem must be given just and sympathetic consideration by the authorities concerned.

When you have so much unemployment in Kuala Lumpur and in the country, hawking is one of the ways to try to eke out a living. It is heartless, inhuman and unconscionable to persecute the hawkers.

I therefore call on the Government, for a start in giving this problem the socio-economic and human attention it deserves, to dismantle the Enforcement Squad, because of the notorious reputation it has built up for itself.

Secondly, the Government should get down to solve this problem, not as a criminal problem, but as a socio-economic problem, and stop hounding and persecuting the hawkers as if they are no better than animals.

Thirdly, in view of the forth coming Hari Raya Haji and Chinese New Year festivities, I call on the Minister concerned to let the hawkers ply their wares without Municipal interference, so that they can eke out a living in these difficult times.