Geylang Serai MP comes under fire for claiming that annual fair is not Ramadan Bazaar

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Photo credit: mptc.org.sg
 

Geylang Serai MP, Dr Fatimah Lateef, has been criticised by some in the Malay-Muslim community for her comments concerning the annual bazaar at Geylang Serai that coincides with the month of Ramadan every year.

Attempting to parry concerns that some stalls at the bazaar do not have Halal certification, Fatimah Lateef said in an interview to Berita Harian that the Bazaar is not actually named the Ramadan Bazaar as people believe it to be. She says that the annual fair has been called the Geylang Serai Bazaar for a number of years now and that it is open to all in the multi-racial community.

She further added that consumers should be inclusive as the Bazaar is open to everyone regardless of race or religion. She said, “When you are at the bazaar, observe what types of foods you would like to eat. If you have doubts or the food is not suitable for you, don’t buy it. You can pick a different stall or go elsewhere to eat.”

Penyertaan peniaga bukan Islam di bazar perlihat sifat inklusif http://bit.ly/2r8X59U

Posted by Berita Harian Singapura on Thursday, 8 June 2017

Retired Straits Times senior political correspondent, Mr Ismail Kassim, responded to Mdm Lateef’s interview, saying:

 

“Call the Ramadan Bazaar at Geylang Serai by any name, it doesn’t matter. Few will also object if you want to open it to those who want to sell non-halal food.

But do be upfront. Be transparent and please inform the public so as to avoid confusion and creating a controversy. An unnecessary one too, that should be best avoided especially in the month of Ramadan.

Most of us including myself have always thought that the Bazaar which coincides with Ramadan only sell halal food; so try to appreciate how upsetting it could be when we discover otherwise.

To matter matters worse, you seem to be taking the high moral ground.

By raising other unrelated issues, you seem to be trying to pass the buck, to
blame us for the outcry, as if we are against inclusiveness.

We can assure you that we are all for inclusiveness and multiracialism and have no objection if you want to change the nature of the bazaar to include sale of non-halal food.

But don’t do it surreptitiously. It is not the proper way for a PAP MP to behave.”

Members of the Malay-Muslim community have commented in a similar vein online, questioning Fatimah Lateef and the Geylang Serai Town Council for not disclosing that the fair  is not the Ramadan Bazaar at all. Commenters argue that this lack of disclosure may have led Malay-Muslims to believe that all the food sold at the fair is Halal.

The last time a constituency made news over a fair was when Workers’ Party’s Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council was fined for running a Chinese New Year fair without a permit.