SINGAPORE: Veteran politician Dr Tan Cheng Bock added his voice to others who have encouraged people to eat at ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre in Bukit Merah, where sales have fallen since tuberculosis screenings were announced earlier this month.

“We had read in the news that it was unusually quiet because of the recent tuberculosis cases near the area, and indeed it was,” wrote Dr Tan, 83, in a Jan 24 Facebook post.

The chairman of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), who is a medical doctor by profession and who served as a Member of Parliament under the ruling People’s Action Party from 1980 to 2006, said that he and his wife ate at the hawker centre last Sunday (Jan 21).

He went on to help allay people’s possible fears by explaining that tuberculosis is a bacterial infection and is not nearly as common as it was in the past, largely because hygiene and living conditions have improved.

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“Thankfully, with better living standards, TB cases have drastically reduced, though they occasionally appear. In this case, all detected cases were treated and the medical authorities have assured everyone that there is no risk of infection,” he added reassuringly.

“My wife and I had a delicious dinner and a fantastic chendol which we thoroughly enjoyed! So don’t avoid the hawker centre anymore, do go and support the stalls there!” Dr Tan added.

The sharp fall in the number of customers at ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre made the news earlier this month, with one stall assistant even telling CNA that the situation is worse than it had been during the COVID-19 pandemic because at least then, customers were still buying food for takeaway.

Others have said that business is down to half what it had previously been.

The Ministry of Health said on Jan 5 that it would be conducting the screenings from Jan 11 to 15 for around 3,000 residents and workers at  Blocks 1 and 3 Jalan Bukit Merah, ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre, and Thong Kheng Seniors Activity Centre @ Queenstown at Block 3 Jalan Bukit Merah.

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A number of public figures have appealed to the public to support the hawkers affected by the loss in traffic at the hawker centre, including Mr Eric Chua, the MP for Queenstown, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, and Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu.

Food guru KF Seetoh has been critical of this, saying that if politicians want to assist the affected hawkers, they can help by reducing their rents and working with delivery companies to offer discounts. /TISG

Read also: KF Seetoh to politicians: Help hawkers by reducing their rents and working with delivery companies to offer discounts