Saturday June 16, 2012
Mambang Diawan wet market traders hampered by competition
By FOONG PEK YEE
TRADERS at the Mambang Diawan wet market always have Monday blues because business is slow on that day.
Every Monday they have to compete with traders from the pasar pagi set up adjacent to the wet market.
A trader at the wet market told me that the competition was so intense that some fellow traders chose to not open their stall for business every Monday.
Pointing to several empty stalls, the trader, who preferred anonymity, said she and her husband chose to soldier on despite the poor business.
“If we don’t open for business, we are sure to get nothing for the day,” she reasoned.
She said the traders in the wet market opened by 6am and closed about noon.
It was Monday and almost noon, and the couple was getting ready to close for the day.
I manage to start a conversation with them, and we chatted for over an hour, talking about anything and everything.
She said business in the wet market had slowed down over the years, and this could be seen by the dwindling population in this little town located about 50km from Ipoh city.
Mambang Diawan, loosely translated as “fairies among the cloud” saw its population dwindling every year due to the youths migrating to cities to study and to work.
This certainly has affected business in the market.
Besides the pasar pagi, the traders also have to contend with a pasar malam every Thursday.
“It is just too much,” said the trader of having to compete with the mobile traders for two days in a week.
Perhaps what actually irked the wet market traders is not only the competition but also the authorities’ who brought in the unhealthy competition.
Did the local council do any homework before allowing the pasar pagi and pasar malam in the little town where the traders are already struggling to survive?
Assuming the council had overlooked the matter initially; why did it not do anything to rectify the situation after market traders highlighted their plight to the councillors?
While a pasar malam may be good and convenient for the people, especially for those who worked and did their marketing after office hours, I really do not see the need to set up a pasar pagi next to the market and selling goods similar to those in the wet market.
The trader said they had raised the matter to Keranji assemblyman Chen Fook Chye from the DAP, but nothing had come out of it.
“Chen Fook Chye kept asking us to call him anytime if we had problems during the campaign for the last general election.
“Nowadays we have to call a few times before he takes our call. Even then, he said we should call (Keshvinder) Singh who is the Malim Nawar assemblyman,” the trader said.
Mambang Diawan is under Malim Nawar and Keshvinder who won the seat on a DAP ticket is now a Barisan Nasional-friendly assemblyman.
The traders said Keshvinder is also nowhere to be seen after the election.
In the case of this wet market, I would say the council must take responsibility.
To begin with, the council, as the third tier in government (state is second tier and federal, first tier) is closest to the people on the ground.
As such, councillors are deemed the ears and eyes of the Government, and they are the vital link between the people and the state government and the federal government.
To begin with, the performance of the councillors are generally below par, if not disappointing.
It is all out in the open for us to see and judge — dirty garbage trucks plying the cities, towns and housing estates, dirty surroundings, clogged drains, flash floods, traffic congestion and haphazard development.
Take the case of missing drain covers in the Mambang Diawan wet market for instance.
The councillors did not take any action to replace the covers even after a trader, in her 70’s, stepped into the exposed drain and hurt her leg recently.
The fall was bad and the elderly trader could not work for more than two weeks.
This had perhaps prompted a trader, in his 60’s, to ask for MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s help to cover the drains during his visit to the market on May 18.
Dr Chua immediately instructed the grassroots leaders accompanying him, including councillors, to place new drain covers within a month.
He also gave the trader his contact number to inform him if the problem was not solved in a month.
The drains were still covered by wooden planks when I checked them on Monday. The one-month deadline will end in two days and it will be interesting to see if the covers are replaced by then.
According to a trader, some people came to the market and measured the drains two days after Dr Chua’s visit.
“That’s it and nothing happened after that,” the trader said.
I wonder whether the council has a time frame to carry out repair works, or whether it knows the definition of urgency.
I also wonder whether the public can sue the council when they hurt themselves after falling into the uncovered drain.
After all, the public can be punished under the law if they did not pay their assessment.