Wednesday 5 September 2012

Hawkers storm DAP Raya open house in Penang

A group of 20, who claimed to be hawkers working at the Esplanade in Penang, stormed a DAP Hari Raya open house in Jalan Pattani tonight.

The hawkers carried placards with messages like "where are your promises Guan Eng?" and "what will become of our fate at Padang Kota Lama?"

They protested in front of the venue for about 30 minutes before being asked to leave.

angry penang hawkers storm dap hari raya do 040912 02They claimed to have been prevented from plying their trade at the Esplanade even though they had attempted to apply for licenses.

Hawker M Balakrishnan, 65, said he had been doing business at the area for eight years before being stopped by enforcement officers from the local council (MPPP).

He claimed his application for license to operate as a roadside masseur was rejected without reason.

"They told me my business is bad for tourism. What nonsense! Tourists would like this," he told reporters outside the compound of the venue.
Balakrishnan also threatened that if the authorities did not respond to their woes in one week, the group would organised "the biggest ever" demonstration in Penang.

The group turned quite emotional later, crying out that they have been neglected by the Penang chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the Pakatan government.

Several men tried to stop cars with government officials from leaving the premises, and even hit the cars. However members of a security corp stopped them.

Lim is not around as he is on a business trip to China.

Hawkers threatened

Another hawker, 30-year old Siti Salmiah Shaharin, lamented that she has lost her business for five months ever since her stall was raided by MPPP officials, who she claimed were "very rude" to her.

Some of the officers, according to Salmiah, even threatened that they would end up in jail if they did not vacate their space along the Esplanade.

"I have traded for close to 16 years. I tried to apply for license five years ago but without success. I am really upset because I lacked money to celebrate a proper Hari Raya," added the hawker from Bayan Lepas, who ran a stall selling rojak, dried fruits and titbits.

A police mobile van appeared on the scene only after the group had left, and the commotion over.

The event was attended by about 300 people, and if not for the protest, was a peaceful Hari Raya gathering.

The group which protested denied they were members of Perkasa or Umno, saying they were ordinary hawkers who victimised by the state government.

A man, claiming to be a hawker, recognised this Malaysiakini journalist by name, and when asked if he were from the Malay rights organisation, said "it looks like me, sounds like me but it's not me".

The group demanded to see Lim and criticised him for not meeting them to address their woes.
Many illegals
Meanwhile, when met at the venue, MPPP councillor Iszuree Ibrahim said he would refer the incident to the Licensing Department, saying he would also raise the matter in a coming meeting.

Iszuree, from PAS, said that many of the hawkers along the Esplanade were illegals, and not from Penang island.

"They come from as far as Sungai Petani, Seberang Perai and Kuala Muda. They trade for a few hours daily and when they have earned enough - about RM500 - they drive their vans home, and return the next day," he said.

"We give priority to hawkers from the island when issuing licenses as we need to control the numbers so they do not cause traffic congestion. The island is already crowded with cars," he added.

The open house was attended by several DAP leaders including Ng Wei Aik (Komtar), Liew Chin Tong (Bukit Mertajam); Jeff Ooi (Jelutong), Lydia Oh (Berapit) and top leaders from PKR - Deputy Chief Minister I Mansor Othman (Penanti) and state executive councillor Abdul Malik Abul Kassim (Batu Maung).

No comments:

Post a Comment