Member of Parliament (MP) for Mountbatten Single-Member Constituency Lim Biow Chuan has responded to allegations about the hawkers of Old Airport Road Food Centre having to work “super long hours”. He said that he visited the food centre at night and expressed disappointment at the netizen who made those allegations in the first place. However, Mr Lim did not respond to the netizen, Gary Ho’s post in its entirety, but just addressed one portion.
Yesterday morning, netizen Gary Ho wrote a lengthy Facebook post detailing how the hawkers at Old Airport Road Food Centre “were all made to sign ridiculous legal documents in English without a translator informing them what they were signing” when NTUC Foodfare took over its management.
He also alleged that some hawkers said “they were made to buy mandatory insurance of $100+ per annum which covers the public areas outside their stall” and questioned why this was necessary.
On top of monthly cleaning costs that “rose to $500+ from $300+”, Gary Ho brought up the issue of how “the new contract they signed also mandates that they must stay open for super long hours”.
In response, Mr Lim said that he “was reacting to Gary Ho’s FB post that the hawkers at Old Airport Food Centre was asked to work “super long hours””.
He added, “As far as I know from my interaction with the hawkers, there was no such requirement. Thus, I spoke to a few of the hawkers and visited the food centre at 10.30pm”.
In his post, Mr Lim also said, “One of the stalls had a sign that said that operating hours are from 8am to 7pm. I also spoke to 4 stall operators earlier in the evening and they all said that there was no condition imposed by Foodfare that they must stay open for super long hours. Nor was there any rule that they need to report their movement or face punishment!!”
However, while Mr Lim’s Facebook post only addressed the issue of the hawkers only having to stay open late, he did not address the other concerns raised, which led to netizens bringing them up again in the comments to his post.
Gary asked about how hawkers were unclear about the legal documents they signed, a rise in monthly cleaning costs, and the alleged mandatory insurance they were made to buy that covered the area outside their stalls.
He even raised questions such as:
“How can you make hawkers sign a legal document with no translation provided???” “Why are they made to insure the hawker centre??”
“I know costs have risen but is this profiteering? If the previous contractor could do it at $300+, why the almost doubling of charges?”
Ho’s post received 3,400 reactions and almost 4,500 shares on Facebook.