National Environment Agency (NEA) issues clarification on the mysterious Vice-President of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods after Mr Koh Eng Khoon, Chairman of the association voiced that he is not aware of such a person.
On 3 July, Dr Amy Khor Lean Suan, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources & Ministry of Health answered questions about the Sungei Road Second Hand Market filed by Members of Parliament, Ms Denise Phua, Er Dr Lee Bee Wah and Nominated Member of Parliament, Kok Heng Leun. The three MPs have asked what help has the government rendered to the vendors affected by the impending closure of the market, whether the government is following up on the vendors after the closure and whether the vendors can be relocated to another location.
A petition was handed to the government on that day asking for the relocation of Sungei Road Second-Hand Market.
Dr Khor emphasized that the vendors have been enjoying the use of the market for free for many years and the market is no longer an unique place as it sells items that can be readily available in shops and brought online.
In her reply to Ms Phua, she said that the government has helped all the vendors who have come forward to seek assistance. More than 60 have been assisted and some have been allocated lock-up stalls, which included Mr Tang Kong Yuen who is the Vice-President of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods.
Mr Koh in a video interview just outside the Parliament House, stated that he is not aware of this person and there is also no such position for his association. He then asked the government to do their research properly.
Separately, Mr Koh also disagree with Dr Khor’s comment about the goods sold in the market. He said that many of the goods that are sold in the market are unique and many collectors will frequent the market in search of antiques that have been discarded by previous owners and picked up by the old vendors for sale. Nowhere in Singapore, can one buy items such as the ones found in the market.
In response to Mr Koh’s statement, NEA has published a clarification on its website,
The post wrote,
“It has been alleged that the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods does not have a Vice President position. Is this true? Is Mr Tang Kong Yuen really the Vice President of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods?
Yes, based on the latest records from the Registry of Societies, Mr Tang Kong Yuen is the Vice President of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods.”
After the clarification was posted, volunteers for the save Sungei Road Second-Hand Market campaign pointed to Mr Koh that NEA had replied and Mr Tang’s photo can be found on the Straits Times report earlier.
When Mr Koh saw the photo of Mr Tang, he recognised him as one of the 11 street hawkers who were given permits. Mr Tang had been peddling jewelleries at the market for more than forty years.
However Mr Koh said that while Mr Tang was asked to put his name down to register for the association at the Registry of Society in 2012, there had been no election to decide his position and questioned why is he listed as the vice-president for the society. When asked about whether the association has been updating the positions of the association to ROS, Mr Koh said that they did not update the appointments over the past years.
According to Mr Koh, Mr Tang had not been involved in managing of the association and he is known as “Ah Teng” in the market and not “Tang Kong Yuen”.
Questions that NEA ought to answer on the matter.
- Did Mr Tang identified himself as the vice-president of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods?
- If no, how did NEA identify Mr Tang as the VP?
- If NEA identified Mr Tang as VP through the ROS records and not Mr Tang himself, why did they not clarify with Mr Koh on his position?
- Why was there a need to identify Mr Tang as the VP of the association by Senior Minister of State, Dr Amy Khor when Mr Tang had not perform any duties as VP or identified to the vendors as one?
Lack of consultation by government
The association and Save Sungei Road Market Campaign issued a joint statement to Dr Khor’s statement in Parliament stating that there are also some inconsistency and ambiguity with the figures cited in Parliament.
Out of the “200 vendors” reportedly engaged by the Government, SMS Khor said “more than 60 are receiving some form of Government assistance”, while a vague “more than 80” indicated they do not require assistance after SRM ceases on July 11. This still leaves “70 or so” vendors who are assessing their options. Simple arithimetics dictates that adding the 3 category of vendors mentioned would exceed the reported 200 “engaged” vendors.
Members of the Save Sungei Road Campaign had in fact found in our survey with the vendors that not all of them were consulted or engaged successfully by the Government. There are vendors who only operate in the weekends who would have missed the NEA officers assigned to “engage”. The same goes for some vendors who operate from late afternoon.
The statement also noted that the Government is supposedly to have performed open to question. “It is a fact that since 2013, the vendors as well as various individuals, architects, and groups have submitted letters and proposals to relevant agencies to consider relocating the market as a whole. These proposals have ranged from simple requests of relocation to integration of a flea market in future developments. None of these proposals have been considered and were only acknowledged by generic replies. No ranking officials have ever came in person to meet and dialogue with the representatives of the Association.”