Press Conference Statement (2) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Penang DAP Hqrs on Wednesday, 26th February 1992 at 11.30 a.m.
MPPP’s plan to clear all Penang Island streets of hawkers is another example of victimisation and persecution of hawkers by a Council with ‘decadent and impotent’ mentality
I had said that one of the first tasks of Tan Ghim Hwa as MPPP President is to suspend the harassment and victimisation of the hawkers on the Penang Island.
Tan Ghim Hwa should review and scrap the MPPP plan to clear all Penang Island streets of hawkers in two years’ time by 1994. This is the best example of victimisation and persecution of hawkers by a Council with a ‘decadent and impotent’ mentality – to borrow the words of the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik.
What is the rationale for the MPPP plan to clear all the streets of the Penang Island of hawkers? Is hawking a dirty, shameful and dishonourable job? I have no doubt that the honest and hardworking hawkers are definitely better citizens than many of the Gerakan leaders and ‘representatives’ who made use of their position or influence either with the State Government leaders or the MPPP to bully hawkers or the ordinary people!
Hawking is a distinctive Malaysian way of life and a tourist attraction. It is a significant factor in helping to keep down the cost of living of the people. It is an honourable means of livelihood for Malaysians, and from the sacrifice of hawkers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, university professors have been produced who have made great contribution to the development of the community and the nation.
The hawkers themselves will agree and co-operate in a cleanliness campaign, to ensure the hawkers’ food are hygienic, but this is completely different from the MPPP proposal to clear all the streets of Penang Island of hawkers.
I do not believe that the MPPP Councillors, many of whom had spent ratepayers’ money to go on overseas junkets on allegedly study tours, are not aware that in certain cities, whole roads have been reserved for hawking. Why then should the MPPP come out with a plan to clear all Penang Island streets of hawkers by 1994?
The trouble with the MPPP Councillors is that they are making their plans from air-conditioned council chambers, without direct contact and interaction with the hawkers themselves.