Deplores the high-handed Petaling Jaya Municipality attitude which forced the 126 stall-holders at Section 52 market to stage a mass walk-out in protest of the PJ Municipality briefing

Press Statement by DAP Member of Parliament and Adviser to Petaling Jaya Hawkers’ Association, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 27.7.1982:

Deplores the high-handed Petaling Jaya Municipality attitude which forced the 126 stall-holders at Section 52 market to stage a mass walk-out in protest of the PJ Municipality briefing

I am shocked by the most unreasonable and high-handed attitude and action of the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council this afternoon, which resulted in the 126 stall-holders of Section 52 market to stage a mass walk-out in protest at Petaling Jaya Municipal Council briefing.

On 21st July 1982, the Section 52 market stallholders received a notice from the Petaling Jaya Municipality Health Officer requiring them to attend a meeting at the PJ Municipality at 2.30 p.m. to ballot for places for a temporary market-place at the old market in Old Town, and requiring them to vacate Section 52 market by July 31, on the ground that the Municipality would disconnect electricity and water supplies on August 1 to demolish the market.

On behalf of the Section 52 market stall-holders, I met Petaling Jaya Municipal Health Officer, Dr. V. Sivapalsundram, and the Acting Yang di-Pertua, Incik Rastam Shahrom bin Dato Haji Abdul Rauf, suggesting a postponement of the balloting as there was complete uncertainty about their future.

Many of the stallholders had been carrying out their business at the Section 52 market for some 20 years. The stallholders would not stand in the way of development for the good of the Petaling Jaya community but it was only fair that their rights and interests be safeguarded.

The Petaling Jaya Municipality had said that it intended to construct a 25-storey $50 million Wisma Petaling Jaya on the site of the Section 52 market, but there is doubt whether in view of the present economic recession and the government cut-down of expenditures, the Wisma Petaling Jaya project as planned could be carried out as scheduled.

The Section 52 market stallholders asked that until and unless the entire Wisma PJ project has been finalised, including the sources and borrowing of the necessary funds, and work for the construction of Wisma PJ project was to begin and to be completed without interruption, they should be allowed to continue to do business in Section 52 market.

This was most reasonable position as the Section 52 market Stall-holders gave a categorical assurance to the PJ Municipality that once the Wisma PJ project was ready for all phases of implementation, they would move out and make way for the project.

As stallholders, whose livelihood would be adversely affected, and furthermore as ratepayers, the stallholders are entitled to a full explanation of the Wisma PJ plans, and the alternative arrangements being made for them.

The Petaling Jaya Municipality proposes to move the Section 52 stallholders to the old market site at Old Town, which is most inconvenient and would cause losses financially. This is because the Old Town area would have two markets side by side, compounding the already impossible car-parking problem in the area. Furthermore, the facilities and stall-spaces being planned in the old market site are most inadequate and would result in great financial hardships for the stallholders.

It is clear that the Petaling Jaya Municipal Councillors have completely disregarded the problems that would be created for the Section 52 market stallholders, and insufficient thought had been given to the question as to how to avoid making the stallholders the victims of Wisma PJ project.

For instance, when the PJ Municipality first issued a notice to the stallholders about the Wisma PJ project in January this year, it had intended to build a new market for the affected stallholders next to the present site. Now this market plan has been abandoned. I understand that the latest talk is to have a new market at Section 8.

If the PJ Municipal Councillors had given adequate thought to the problems of the Section 52 stallholders, they would have rushed through plans for the construction of a new market to house them, instead of the present slip-shod and most unsatisfactory plan to shifting them temporarily to the Old Town old market site. This is planning as its worst!

What is even more shocking is that the PJ Municipality had decided to cancel the stall licences of husband-and-wife teams in the Section 52 market, simply because there aren’t sufficient stall-spaces in the Old Town Old Market.

This will cause great hardships, and this decision must be rescinded by the Petaling Jaya Councillors.

In view of these many problems, I am shocked that the Petaling Jaya Municipality and the Councillors had never had a dialogue to discuss the Wisma PJ’s plans and to hear the views and problems of the affected stall-holders. This was why I suggested that such a dialogue must be held before any balloting took place.

After my meetings with Incik Rastam and Dr. Sivapalsundram, the PJ Municipality issued a notice to all Section 52 stallholders informing them that the PJ Municipality would inform them of its plans with regard to Wisma PJ at a meeting at the Municipality at 2 p.m. today.

Unfortunately, when the 126 stall-holders turned up, accompanied by the PJ Hawkers’ Association President, Lee Ow Pin and Treasurer, Lee Kim Then and myself as I am also adviser to the Association, the PJ Municipal officials refused to allow me to be present at the briefing.

As I was also entrusted by the stallholders to be one of their spokesman at the briefing, an hour-long argument ensued between the PJ Municipal officials, the Hawkers’ Association officials and representatives of the Section 52 market stallholders. As the PJ Municipal officials persisted in their stand that I could not attend the briefing, all the 126-stallholders, led by the PJ Hawkers’ Association leaders, staged a mass walkout in protest.

I cannot understand why the PJ Municipal Officials are so shy about explaining the Wisma PJ in my presence, unless they have something to hide, or they are unable to stand close questioning. This cannot convince the stallholders or the public that there are indeed comprehensive plans for the implementation of the Wisma PJ project. It would be most unjust if the stallholders concerned are evicted, and then the Wisma PJ project is stalled for a few years for a variety of reasons, just like the Civic Centre project.

I call on the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council President, Incik Abdullah Satar, to be open about the Wisma PJ plans, and to be more sympathetic to the problems of the Section 52 market stallholders. The PJ Municipality should not act as if it has the right to steamroll through its plans in utter disregard of the people’s problems and views.