So much for NTUC wanting to keep the costs of food down for Singaporeans eh? Despite what it has said as a justification for NTUC Enterprise wanting to acquire Kopitiam, it would appear that NTUC Foodfare has a track record of increasing the operational costs of the hawkers after it takes over.
This issue first came to public attention over Member of Parliament (MP), Lim Biow Chuan's rebuttal of a Facebook (FB) user, Gary Ho's (Gary) laments about the decline of the iconic Old Aiport Road Hawker Centre. Gary's FB posts had revealed that dishwashing costs had been hiked 40 per cent. after NTUC Foodfare took over which led to the increased operational costs of the hawkers who have loyally served the community for yonks!
Based on new reports, it would also appear that Old Airport Road Hawker Centre is not the only hawker centre that has been presented with increased operational costs! Whampoa Hawker Centre has been similarly affected too! Is this a trend? How does increasing the operational costs of hawkers gel with NTUC's bold statement that it wishes to keep costs of food down? Perhaps I am slow on the uptake but it does not seem to add up.
Added to the litany of confused and mixed messaging, there also appears to be the appointment of agents who are not altogether salubrious. The new dish-collecting contractor appointed by NTUC Foodfare is Bestway Cleaning Services Pte Ltd. It is important to note that this year, Bestway Cleaning Services together with 2 other companies, were fined by the court for housing foreign workers in overcrowded private residential premises, which did not comply with the URA guidelines. The director of Bestway Cleaning Services, Koh Kok Seng, was also convicted under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) and the company has now been barred from employing foreign workers. Why is Bestway still being used? Has NTUC been negligent in appointing such an agent?
Since we are apparently now cleaning house on how agents are appointed (starting with the Aljunied and Hougang Town Council and the Pasir Ris and Punggol Town Council), will NTUC also be taken to task for appointing agents that have broken the law? What was the basis for Bestway's appointment? Why are Bestway increasing costs?
The issues that have been fleshed out by the Workers' Party's ongoing lawsuit has highlighted discrepancies between the standards expected of opposition parties and those expected by PAP government-linked companies like NTUC. Shouldn't the PAP put its own house in order first before trying to straighten out the issues within the WP for the past few years with AGO audits, and many others?