Are vendors at Sungei Rd really receiving lots of help?

Help ongoing for Sungei Road vendors

I refer to the article “Help ongoing for soon-to-be displaced Sungei Road vendors” (Straits Times, May 12).

It states that “With less than two months to go before the flea market at Sungei Road closes, 44 of the 200 vendors have a clearer picture of how they might be moving on, having accepted assistance from various government agencies.

Among them, 23 vendors have submitted applications for hawker stalls with 20 allocated units at centres such as Chinatown Market, North Bridge Road Market and Food Centre and Upper Cross Street Market.

Three will be selling their goods at other flea markets occasionally.

15 get ComCare assistance: how much?

As to “Three are also being supported by Workforce Singapore (WSG) in their search for other jobs while the remaining 15 have been granted ComCare assistance, said the authorities who gave an update on Friday (12 May) on the fate of some of the vendors from Singapore’s last free hawking zone” – can we have more details such as how much financial assistance has been granted to the 15 vendors and for what duration?

Is it say about $200 a month for say about nine months? (According to the vendors whom TOC spoke with, no one knows who received the ComCare assistance and how much.)

Helping three to find jobs?

Since the closure was announced almost three months ago on 17 February – and the announcement said “The authorities said that Social Service Offices will facilitate financial assistance and Workforce Singapore will provide employment services under existing schemes to eligible vendors who may require such help” – have the three being supported by WSG found jobs already (since its three months already)?

Why take two months to start helping?

With regard to “Over four days in April, officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Social and Family Development, WSG and the Central Singapore CDC fanned out in teams to engage vendors individually on their needs” – why did it take about two months from the announcement date that various assistance will be given – to start the process?

“In their joint-media release, officials said engagement was followed up with phone calls or home visits, with the vendors being receptive.”

In respect of “Ms Adeline Leong, director of NEA’s food and environmental hygiene department, said NEA set aside more than 30 hawker stalls specifically for Sungei Road vendors to apply for, “although hawker stalls are in high demand in Singapore and are at near full occupancy”.

Aside from these, vendors may also apply for other stalls that are available in NEA’s monthly tenders.

About 50 Sungei Road vendors had indicated interest in taking up lock up stalls at hawker centres.

NEA also identified seven flea markets close to the homes of about 20 Sungei Road vendors who have expressed interest in such stalls and are helping them to facilitate their take-up.

How many stalls taken up?

Ms Leong said: “We stand ready to help any Sungei Road Hawking Zone (SRHZ) user in getting a hawker stall or a flea market to continue their trade.”” – how many stalls have actually been taken up? Reading the above – it does not seem to say how many exactly there are? Could it be as little as just a few of them?

As to “The authorities also noted that about 70 vendors had indicated they did not require any assistance as they were able to support themselves or find other jobs. The authorities said they were reaching out to the remaining vendors and that help was ongoing for all.

NEA’s Ms Leong said: “We understand that there are some users who have the means to support themselves after the closure of SRHZ and do not require any assistance.

“Nonetheless, we will continue to keep in touch with them, and help them with the various assistance options should they wish to apply for them.”

Summarising the sentiment of some of his fellow vendors, Mr Koh Eng Khoon, chairman of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods at Sungei Road flea market who represents about 70 of them, said those who have accepted hawker stalls “have their doubts on how business will do” but are trying out these alternatives.

Update in six months?

The Housing Development Board will also be releasing five retail shops in June which vendors can bid for. It also has another 20 void-deck kiosks meant for use as mini-marts or convenience stores, and those who wish to change to these trades can bid for them over the next three months” – can we have an assurance that there will be a statistical update in say six months and also a year later?

Talk only, no statistics?

Arguably, we seem to be hearing a lot of talk about how we are trying to help, but seemingly very little as to exactly how many have been helped and exactly in what way or quantum?

“Despite these offers from agencies, some vendors are still holding out hope that a new site for the flea market can be found, despite repeated statements from the Government that this will not happen.”

In this connection, according to the article “Sungei Road vendors get keys to their new permanent stalls” (Straits Times. May 12) – “Mr Tang Kong Yuan, 89, has hawked his wares at the open-air Sungei Road flea market for 40 years. Within the next few weeks he will be doing so from his own stall in Chinatown Market.

The fit and sprightly senior received the keys on Thursday (11 May) to his new business premises, where he will be selling watches and jewellery.

As one of the original 11 permit holders of the Sungei Road market, he gets to rent the hawker stall at subsidised rates. His rent is $184 a month but it will be fully subsidised in the first year, and halved during his second year there. The 11 vendors are from a pool of 31 rag-and-bone men who, “because of their chosen trade”, were excluded from a government programme to resettle street hawkers in purpose-built markets and hawker centres in the 1970s and 1980s. All 11 have been given the option of renting stalls at selected hawker centres in the city area at subsidised rates.”

Only 11 out of 200 offered subsidised rental?

So, does it mean that only 11 of the 200 vendors are being offered subsidised rates to rent hawker stalls? (In any case, TOC understands from the Sungei Road vendors that some of the 11 vendors who have permits are already deceased.)

Most may be worse off?

With regard to “The monthly rent of his new stall is $400 and he had been making about $1,200 on average each month at Sungei Road, which was rent-free” – this may in a way be akin to putting the crux of the matter to the plight of the 200 elderly vendors – as no matter how nicely the alternatives that are being offered to them may sound in media reports – most if not all of them may end up worse off than before this draconian decision to disrupt their livelihood and their lives in general, and kill one of Singapore’s most valued heritage?


Leong Sze Hian



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16 Responses to “Are vendors at Sungei Rd really receiving lots of help?”

  • Ah Peng Kia:

    Mr Leong, you have been asking many questions over the last few years, but have you ever got any reply from the authorities? Your questions are valid, but how can you shift them from just “food for thought” for netizens to proper engagement from the government? Otherwise all these questions are nothing more than information consumption, with no real impact on citizens’ lives. It’s time Singaporeans force the government to engage with us and answer our questions. The big question is, how do we do that?

    GD Star Rating
  • Old Moon:

    Ah Peng Kia
    You are exactly right! Other than writing and posting our grievances and anger here what can we do to bring our grievances to the attention of the PAP government for redress?
    Real action must be taken to galvanize support and then present them to the government.
    When there is a critical mass of support for the causes/grievances that need redress the PAP cannot ignore and continue to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye.
    Time for real action and fewer armchair comments.

    GD Star Rating
  • Htst:

    The govt is very smart and cunning. Remember the Sengkang West Colabarium? They said they not going to build and SK West residents happy, GE won. After that they said no ashes, only tablets. LOL

    They can’t afford those store rental, no way, pap wants max profit.

    MSM will tell sheep how great PAPpy to help these poor hawkers. After 6 months, people already forgot, these people already resigned to fate and got used to no help.

    GD Star Rating
  • Amos: 1 PAP: 0:

    PAP ignores questions it does not like. This is a fact.

    Want answers? There is only one way to get it. Regime change. Throw the arrogant, self-serving, greedy, incompetent, corrupt and pro-alien PAP out of Parliament. VTO.

    GD Star Rating
  • RDB:

    NEA = Not Enough Abilities to provide after the they steal for PMO = Privately Managed Officer1~ Period!

    GD Star Rating
  • Worse off:

    They will be worse off after the relocation…

    No way they can survive with rental stalls…

    Pity their bleak future…

    GD Star Rating
  • C'est la vie:

    This Govt have shown and proven, over the decades and not just overnight, that they don’t much care about their people, their welfare and their future. Let’s be honest and not delude ourselves that they are anything but that. Sungei Road vendors, cardboard collecting uncles and aunties are a mere irritant to them, drawing public attention and rightfully, concern and thus necessitating that the Govt displayed some “movement” on their part to show willing, and that will be all it is …….. a show and nothing more.

    As I’ve stated in my earlier posting, Singapore neither has the fight nor sight to engage, never mind challenge this collection of “numpties” referred to as the Govt, for a better and happier Singapore. Whatever that’ll be suggested, it will never get off the ground for precisely, the reasons I have stated here. It’s in the very nature and dna of Singaporeans which is a testament to the very Govt that they have created and nurtured through their silence, support and subservience.

    Singaporeans are deserving of the very “monster” that they are responsible for creating.

    GD Star Rating
  • Wat a waste:

    These stalls at thieves market is so special , like Portebello Street in london n similar ones in other countries.
    Tourists love going to n browsing at such unique places…incl sgs.
    Now the gov gone n spoilt it all!
    Why couldnt the authorities work hand in hand with these vendors n let them have a spot elsewhere with minimal rental…
    What a pity!

    GD Star Rating
  • Interview Vendors After 6 mths:

    Singaporeans will then get to know what have become of these poor elderly vendors from Sungei Road?

    BBC can follow up with the story as CNA will be told to ‘bury’ the past!

    GD Star Rating
  • Bapak:

    Do you understand the meaning of “you die your business”? Do you know every lot those vendors occupying now by drawing few yellow lines for parking can bring in a lot of fines money for these greedy pigs? Endless greed they have and this nation is falling fast.

    Wat a waste:
    These stalls at thieves market is so special , like Portebello Street in london n similar ones in other countries.
    Tourists love going to n browsing at such unique places…incl sgs.
    Now the gov gone n spoilt it all!
    Why couldnt the authorities work hand in hand with these vendors n let them have a spot elsewhere with minimal rental…
    What a pity!

    GD Star Rating
  • Concerned:

    Even as the PAP claim old should be respected, it destroys
    the old. It makes it near impossible for older people to get
    financial and medical help, so they can live life with dignity.
    What is the point of help progs when there’s no access to them?
    It simply wipes out old places, which are part of our history
    and peculiar to Spore, and which provoke great memories. This
    last divorces pple from their country. There are no more
    reminders of home.

    Even LKY’s legacy is being wiped out. Our greenery, which he
    took pains to support and nurture, is going. Instead outdated
    concepts of his are being clung to. Look at the no of so-called
    scholars being given leadership roles in the govt. Many of these
    are army people. LKY once threatened to call in the army on us.
    It’s being done…. And they’re proving to be a useless lot.
    Meanwhile we are faced with pettiness, incosideration, meanness.

    2 things astound about the Sungei Rd wipeout — it promotes the
    govt’s reuse and recyle concept, but this apparently doesn’t count;
    minister Masagos will not even sit down and Speak to the people
    concerned but prefers to hide behind civil servants. Where is the
    accountability for the votes he got? Or the respect he owes voters?

    There is no doubt disruption is needed in the govt for Spore and
    Sporeans to survive and thrive.

    GD Star Rating
  • Nsman:

    When the dust has settled, the flea market will re emerge in another guise but with stallholders willing to pay high rentals.

    Yet another opportunity for PAP and their cronies to make money.

    Mark my word.

    GD Star Rating
  • Nsman:

    Sungei Road flea market vendors pay only a nominal rental.

    PAP regime can never stand for this.

    It’s as simple as that.

    Why let people park for free when millions can be made? Hence, paid parking at beaches, Parks and along roads, even on bridges.

    Even PAP MPs, former ones too, are scared of one man to speak up.

    What a shame to call themselves MP! Phoney MPs.

    GD Star Rating
  • LIONS:

    this very action of the gahmen reflects upon their ARROGANCE N ‘ATAS’ atttitude.

    they CANT STAND THE POOR,THEY ONLY LOOK UP TO THE RICH N THATS WHY THEY SPEND BILLIONS ON F1 that was supposed to ‘reap economics benefits’ to sgs????
    that was told by VB,the fumbling FOREIGN MINISTER who fumbled at YOG N MEWR too?


    GD Star Rating
  • Sungei Road - Going, gone?:

    Once touted as a tourist attraction, she is now forced out as she has outlived her worthiness.

    Just like telling the pioneer generation that they are no longer needed.

    Don’t be so ungrateful and cruel please.

    Every Dog Has its Day!

    GD Star Rating
  • rub off the swollen part:

    //announced almost three months ago on 17 February – and the announcement said “The authorities said that Social Service Offices will facilitate financial assistance and Workforce Singapore will provide employment services under existing schemes to eligible vendors who may require such help//

    假好心. it is like kicking someone’s butt and then pretend to pass him some ointment to rub off the swollen part.

    GD Star Rating
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