January 21 — 23, 2011
Calling formore civicspaces
JURy and a littleRed book
FigURing oUtelectRicity bills
Immigrant traders at the market here arerobbing local hawkers o business while authorities turn ablind eye despite numerous complaints. Tere are even sus- picions that some ocers might be extorting protectionmoney rom the illegal traders.Chin Chan Kam, who sells vegetables atthe Selayang Utama wet market said the illegaltraders, who are mostly rom Myanmar, areunder-cutting them at every turn.“We can’t compete against them, they don’tincur overhead rom electricity and water andrental. We sell our vegetables at RM2, they cansell at RM1,” said Chin, who is chairperson o the Selayang Hawkers and raders Associa-tion.Pek San Cha, whose vegetable business hasbeen hit by the illegal traders, echoes Chin,saying local hawkers were getting a raw deal.Te illegal hawkers operate “aer hours” when Selayang Municipal Council (MPS)enorcement ocers appear to be o duty.Up to 150 stalls mushroom rom 8pm to8am the ollowing day. Tese stalls operate“extra hours” till 12pm on Saturdays andSundays.Teir stalls are set up along fve-oot waysand spill on to the road, causing trac conges-tion and blocking access to stalls run by localtraders.Pek said traders like him fnd it dicult tounload produce rom trucks because the shop pavements are blocked, while customers whofnd it hard to make their way to his stall optto buy rom the illegal traders instead.Selayang Municipal Councillor (MPS)Lim Ching How said that the MPS was wellaware o the problem.“Tis issue has been brought to us by thetraders since March 2008. Te council is seri-ously looking into it,” said Lim.Lim said the municipality did not have powers to arrest illegal traders. At the most,MPS could seize their stalls and goods but theillegal traders could come backthe next day.Lim also suspects that theillegal traders are somehow be-ing “protected” rom having their stalls and goods seized asthey have been seen giving money to unidentifed people.“Security guards working atthe market overnight have reported seeing some people go rom stall to stall collecting money rom the illegal traders,” he said.he traders themselves are tight-lippedabout it, but Lim does not discount the pos-sibility o corruption.“We think that there might be corruptionon the ground among our ocers. I’ve raisedthe issue that some orm o monitoring isneeded to the MPS ull board meetings,” hesaid.“I hope that the local traders will comeorward and give proo i ocers are taking bribes,” he added.Lim said he was ready to present any evi-dence to the MPS president and the MalaysianAnti Corruption Commission.MPS had plans to allocate more unding to the enorcement unit to stop the illegaltraders rom operating overnight but Limexpressed concern or the ocers’ saety.He said a more permanent solution to the problem was needed and suggested a jointoperation between Kuala Lumpur City Hall(DBKL), the police and the ImmigrationDepartment.Besides causing massive trac jams along Jalan Selayang Utama, which leads into theSelayang new Chinese village, the illegal hawk-ers are also blamed or starting an illegal rub-bish dump which alls under the jurisdictiono Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
Security guards working at themarket overnight have reportedseeing some people go from stallto stall collecting money from theillegal traders.
Selayang Hawkers and Traders Association chairperson Chin Chan Kam (right) and a colleague point to the mountain of rubbish allegedlycaused by immigrant traders.
– Picture by Tang Hui Koon