KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — An ongoing dispute between the Taman Desa Phase 1 Night Hawkers Association (TPD1NHA) and a group of seven hawkers has not only annoyed but embarrassed a majority of the 80 hawkers at the regular Friday pasar malam in Taman Danau Desa here.
Though they said their livelihood and incomes remain unaffected for now, the faction’s behaviour has left a bad taste in their mouths.
Clothes seller Foo Yan Choy, 52, said, “All of us want to earn an honest living and if the rest of us can follow the association’s rules and regulations, what makes you so special?”
Footwear seller Shee Kok Hong, 50, said he was not surprised by the behaviour of some in the faction, having known them since the early days when the pasar malam used to be located near the now-closed Desa Water Park and before that along Jalan Desa Utama.
“Even back then they came infrequently to set up shop... unlike the rest of us who never failed to show up weekly if we can help it. Come to think of it, I think only one of the seven was active back then.
“My business has not been affected, but frankly this is ridiculous. This new place is far better than the water park, with more customers coming by so their behaviour will only bring about long-term problems for us all,” he said.
Nyonya nasi lemak seller Freddy Sta Maria, 50, said they are actually pleased with TPD1NHA’s efforts to make the pasar malam more appealing to the public.
“In the past year since we all moved here, foot traffic has increased by as much as three to four times. The association ensures we keep our surroundings clean and brightly-lit to deter petty crimes from happening within the vicinity.
“Then you have those idiots trying to instigate us, urging us to ignore the committee and not to wear the uniforms provided for us. Their complaints of being unfairly treated is illogical,” he added.
Of the apparent attempt by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to convince TPD1NHA to give trading licences to the seven hawkers, Sta Maria said the faction’s attempts to “go through the backdoor for help” is terribly irritating.
Attempts to contact the Licensing Division of DBKL were not successful at time of writing.
“Bad enough they do this, but that day when they went on TV to claim the association is behaving dictatorially was very humiliating. All I can say is they do not represent us all, not now and not ever,” he added.
Fried fishball hawker and association committee member Chin Kwek Keong, 52, said the faction’s conduct is why “we cannot have nice things.”
“Many of those coming to the pasar malam are our old regular customers, some of whom we have known for decades.
“They tell us the new place looks much nicer than the one near the water park, where foot traffic was nearly non-existent, crime was prevalent and the visitors fewer and far in between.
“Even more so, our uniforms provide a sense of security for them especially the elderly. This means we can even help them carry their purchases to their cars parked nearby, and they do not have to worry we are out to rob them,” he said.
Kwek Keong said he is unable to understand the faction’s mindset, when the rest of them have clearly shown they are willing to be reasonable and compromise with each other.
“It was especially stupid what they told the media on April 16. One of them even accused association secretary Carmen Sum of embezzling the fees, particularly from one old woman who runs a roast duck stall.”
He added that they were unhappy the media did not bother to get their side of the story but the harshest criticism was directed at the person believed to be the faction’s mastermind.
Agar-agar hawker Chin Choy Yuan, 49, said the salt baked chicken seller once boasted to her that he did not need a licence, since he had “powerful contacts” and as such could set up his stall wherever he pleased.
“My retort to his arrogant comment was to ask why he did not bother to help the association’s efforts to move from the water park to where we are now. That man is a moron for bringing all this unwanted attention upon us, and more fool the others for following in his stupidity,” said a visibly angry Choy Yuan.
“I tell you now, since moving here I have made triple from selling agar-agar, compared to what I used to make. I can see for myself how hard TPD1NHA’s committee members work to make sure we can all trade properly.”