Second PAP member emerges in hawker cleaning dispute

SINGAPORE - A second hawker representative involved in the hawker centre cleaning dispute is a People's Action Party (PAP) member.

Mr Jonathan Oh, 52 (above, left), who wrote to the Workers' Party-run town council on behalf of Block 511 hawkers, said on Wednesday that he has served in Kaki Bukit ward as a PAP member for over 20 years.

"I see my role as helping out in the community and attending to residents' needs, as a volunteer," he told The Straits Times.

This comes after it emerged online that Mr Ng Kok Khim (above, right), honorary adviser and former chairman of the Block 538 Hawkers' Association, is a member of the PAP and the Citizens' Consultative Committee for Kaki Bukit division.

Both men have distanced themselves from claims of having political motives in the dispute.

Mr Oh, general manager of Etronin Electromart and People's Association area sub-committee chairman for Kaki Bukit, said his role as chairman is to help out with merchants' needs.

"That was why I became the initial point of contact. But the arrangement was not ideal as I am not a hawker. So a group of hawkers took over the correspondence," he added.

While records show he corresponded as chairman of the Block 511 Hawker Association in the e-mail messages, Mr Oh said the town council "made a mistake".

"There has yet to be a Hawker Association," he said. "I believe (the hawkers') intention is to establish a Hawker Association to handle such matters in future."

Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST)

Socio-political website TR Emeritus raised questions about both men's PAP links on Sunday.

Mr Oh's name surfaced in a dossier distributed by Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament last week.

It said he met town council property manager Tai Vie Shun and sent three e-mail messages between April 28 and May 14. He got two replies telling him to approach the National Environment Agency.

Block 511 hawker Winson Tan, who knows of Mr Oh's PAP affiliation, said: "It doesn't matter if you are a PAP member or a WP member, as long as you serve the members of the public. His store is over there. So he wouldn't want to harm the community."

chanckr@sph.com.sg

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