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Screengrabs of an Instagram page set up by students of Deyi Secondary School as a tribute to Madam Yap's stall at the school. Source: Mothership.sg

Drink stallholder “did not maintain proper hygiene practices,” claims Deyi Secondary School principal; reasoning met with backlash from netizens

The principal of Deyi Secondary School, Madam Lim Ai Poo, has issued a statement regarding the termination of Madam Yap's contract at the school, citing the latter's alleged failure to "maintain proper hygiene practices for her stall."

Responding to queries made by Mothership.sg, the school claimed that despite repeated "reminders" in February and May this year, the condition of Madam Yap's stall "did not improve" and has thus prompted the school to issue a "further reminder" in August.

Among the allegations made by the school in justifying the termination of Madam Yap's contract are that "cardboard boxes stored behind her stall frequently attracted pests" and that she has ignored their requests for her to "include the sale of cut fruits, fresh fruit juice and other healthier food items to encourage healthier eating habits among students."

In justifying its decision, the school added: "The school’s canteen committee regularly briefs all stall owners on the importance of providing healthier food and maintaining strict stall hygiene, for the sake of the students’ health and wellbeing.

"The school conducts periodic reviews to ensure that our stall holders abide by this.

"As a result of these incidents, the school had to make the difficult decision not to renew Mdm Yap’s contract for 2019," the school said.

Many netizens have responded in anger towards the principal's statement, and have disputed her claims, citing Madam Yap's vast experience and meticulousness in handling her stall for more than 30 years.

Madam Yap's granddaughter revealed the stallholder's predicament after learning that her contract will not be renewed for next year:

Several current students and former students of Deyi Secondary have also stepped up and confirmed that Madam Yap has never been lackadaisical about her stall's hygiene and cleanliness:

Several commenters have also condemned the principal's apparent ruthlessness, seeing how the stall has been one of Madam Yap's most significant sources of income after her husband had passed away several years ago, and have lauded the students who have raised awareness about her situation:

However, one commenter appears to be sceptical about Madam Yap's situation and offers a justification for the school's act of terminating her contract:

One particular commenter linked the case of Madam Yap to the current debate surrounding hawker centres and the "social enterprise" model, in which government and non-government intervention appears to be on the rise when it comes to dealing with how hawkers operate their stalls:

Responding to an email tip-off to Mothership.sg alleging that Madam Yap's contract was terminated due to her act of allegedly providing disposable plastic cups to students -- which is against Deyi Secondary's "environmentally-friendly" policies -- the school explained in its statement: "The use of disposable cups was never an issue, since Mdm Yap had already switched to reusable cups in 2017."