A statement has been issued by the campaign to save Sungei Road Market on behalf of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods to address the media reports that have been made on the ongoing attempt by the association to relocate their stalls to another location, following the closure of the Sungei Road Market on 10 July.
Just yesterday, there have been various reports from media outlets on the issues faced by the association in relocating to the proposed locate at the rooftop car park at Golden Mile Tower. Issues such as the absence of application to URA and also a police report being filed against the illegal trespassing of contractors who painted the car park to demarcate the stall lots.
The statement wrote that there has yet to be any contractual agreement with LHN Limited to operate at the proposed carpark premises and no rental payment have been made or transacted. It was only mentioned the estimated rent would cost around $10,000 for each month of operation.
The association also notes that it is in the process of understanding the requirements set by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and highlights that it does not know the procedures required by the planning authorities nor does it know which relevant departments to seek this approval. As such, no official application has been made yet.
The association hopes that members of public can understand that the vendors have been operating within the free hawking zone for many years and do not have the experience outside of the area nor with official procedures. It further states that it seeks the assistance of the authorities and the public to help the vendors to find an alternative area for the displaced Sungei Road Market vendors to operate collectively as one community so to be able to maintain their livelihood.
On 10 July 2017, Sungei Road Second-Hand Market closed its roads to vendors after 80 years of operation as the Singapore Government is taking back the land for residential development.
The government has declined to relocate the vendors despite repeated requests from the vendors, Members of Parliament and civil society. Senior Minister of State, Dr Amy Khor has said in Parliament that the market is not of the same nature with the original market as it sells goods that are available in shops, and consumers can choose to buy second-hand goods online via platforms such as Carousell.
In light of their desperate situation, the association was introduced to the management of Golden Mile Tower's carpark and vendors found that the rooftop carpark was suitable for them to relocate to. There were discussions made for the vendors to shift their stalls there but there had not been any official agreements to do so.
After the announcement at the closing ceremony of the Sungei Road Market that the vendors will shift to the rooftop carpark of Golden Mile Tower, URA stated that there has been no application for the change of use of the carpark space on the rooftop and that it will not allow the market to be set up until an application for the change of use has been submitted and approved.
Subsequently, due to the association having to engage a contractor to paint at the carpark without prior notification, LHN has filed a police report on the matter.
According to a Straits Times report, Mr Koh Eng Khoon who is the chairman of the association and person in charge of the relocation said, “I understood that up to that point, our discussions with the management were a verbal agreement, with the understanding that URA’s approval is needed before vendors can open shop.” and commented, "I didn’t inform them that workers would be drawing out the lots, so that is my fault.”
In response to the recent development, LHN has said it has second thoughts about renting the space to the vendors.
Below is the statement in full
This is a statement issued on behalf of the Association for the Recycling of Second Hand Goods, in consultation with the Association's President, Mr Koh Eng Khoon.
It has come to our attention that there are several news report circulating in the printed mass media today (12 July) about the plans for the Sungei Market to move to Golden Mile Tower Carpark by this Saturday (15 July). As of today, we are still trying to resolve the many issues related to the move that was announced on 10 July when Sungei Road Market was closed.
The Association's President was informed of the reported news by supporters as he is not able to read, and we are deeply concerned.
Therefore we would like to clarify the following:
1. We were in discussion and had yet to reach any contractual agreement with LHN to operate at the proposed carpark premises. No rental payment have been made or transacted. We have only mentioned the estimated rent would cost around $10,000 for each month of operation.
2. We are in the process of understanding the URA requirements. We do not know the procedures required by the planning authorities nor do we know which relevant departments to seek this approval. As such, no official application has been made yet.
3. We hope people will understand that we have only operated within the free hawking zone for many years. We do not have the experience outside of this area and we are unfamiliar with many of the official processes.
4. We sincerely seek the assistance of the authorities and the public to help us find an alternative area for the displaced Sungei Road Market vendors to operate collectively as one community. We simply wish to be able to maintain our livelihood.