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Terengganu Chinese market-food court merchants get reprieve from relocation during monsoon season

Publish date: Sat, 02 Dec 2023, 05:39 PM

PETALING JAYA: Merchants of an important market and food court for the Chinese community in Kuala Terengganu have been given a reprieve after the state government ordered them to clear out by the end of last month.

The land for the Kampung Tiong market and food court, which is next to the historic Kampung Cina enclave, had been given to a private developer and the 100 traders and food hawkers had been told to move.

However, the developer has agreed to delay the relocation of the markets’ traders until after the Chinese New Year in 2024, said Dr Monna Ong, the hawkers’ association advisor.

"After a thorough discussion, they demonstrated understanding and empathy towards the difficulties faced by the hawkers," Ong told The Star.

"Following conversations with the mayor, the developer has agreed to delay the relocation of the mobile hawkers, ensuring they can continue their operations until after the Chinese New Year," said Ong, who is also Terengganu MCA chairperson.

"I am deeply grateful to the developer, for their willingness to accommodate and comprehend the concerns raised."

A meeting has also been set between the developer and hawkers next week to discuss issues surrounding the relocation process, Ong added.

"This highlights the developer's dedication to prioritizing the community's well-being during the planning process," she said.

The Kg Tiong market and food court had been a hub for Kuala Terengganu’s Chinese community for the past 40 years and sold goods and foods tailored to them.

Of the 100 businesses at the market-food court, half sold goods at the market and half had permanent stalls at the food court.

Residents and the market’s supporters said that it was the only one of its kind in Kuala Terengganu which sold non-halal food and beverages and was an integral part of the community.

But in October, the Perikatan Nasional administration decided to take back the land to be developed into a new commercial and residential centre, and the merchants were told to move out by the end of November.

Terengganu exco member Datuk Wan Sukairi Wan Abdullah described the new building to replace the market-food court as a new "landmark and tourist attraction" that will bring "big economic impacts for Kampung Cina".

Wan Sukairi said that the food hawkers had been given replacement lots at different food courts throughout Kuala Terengganu owned by the city council.

The market's merchants meanwhile, are being offered a new site to set up stalls at the Kuala Terengganu waterfront, which is about one kilometre away from Kampung Cina.

But Ong and the market’s merchants have protested the move as the market would be moved away from its main customer base – the Kampung Cina’s residents.

The markets’ traders had also appealed to the state government to delay the move until after Chinese New Year so that they could benefit from increased income from that festival. They also argued the heavy rains from the monsoon season would be over by then.

Ong said that the developer had consented to their request.

"We remain confident that we will be able to discuss further details and allow the association ample time to address the necessary post-relocation arrangements,” she said.

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