Hougang shopkeepers petition against trade fairs

Hougang shopkeepers petition against trade fairs
Hougang Central shopkeepers (from left) Malkit Singh, 55, Choi A Chao, 56, Stanley Lai, 46, and Liu Qijie, 38. Behind them is an ongoing trade fair at the communal space in front of Hougang Mall. Mr Singh, Mr Choi and Mr Lai were among the five who went to see the town council with a petition.

Shopkeepers in Hougang Central on Tuesday handed the opposition-run town council a petition against the frequent trade fairs that they said have hurt their business.

Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council manages the communal space in front of Hougang Mall, which it leases to organisers of trade fairs for a fee.

Around the thoroughfare are HDB blocks with about 60 shops.

The petition, signed by 31 shopkeepers of 25 units selling goods from clothing to cellphone covers, was addressed to town council chairman Sylvia Lim, who is the Workers' Party (WP) chairman.

The petition said: "The trade fairs are badly affecting our business, as the stalls sell similar products but at lower prices because of their low overheads. We are paying fixed rent and charges."

It asked Ms Lim to reconsider the frequency and duration of the fairs, and review the mix of stalls "to minimise direct competition with us".

Mr Philip Wee, 53, chairman of the Bedok Reservoir-Punggol Shops Sub-Committee, presented the petition to the town council's senior public relations executive Kuldip Kaur.

Four shopkeepers accompanied Mr Wee, whose committee comes under a grassroots body, the Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC). The MP for the Bedok Reservoir-Punggol ward in Aljunied GRC is WP chief Low Thia Khiang.

Shopkeepers said business has fallen by up to 80 per cent since the fairs began in April, for two weeks each time and in quick succession.

A two-month Christmas and Chinese New Year fair starting next Friday was the last straw, said the shopkeepers.

Mr Stanley Lai, 46, who sells cellphone covers, said: "Christmas and Chinese New Year are supposed to be the best time for business. We'll suffer."

The shopkeepers say town councils typically consult the shops before organising fairs, but they were not consulted.

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