Chinatown traders protest DBKL’s licence revocation over ‘foreign-looking’ staff

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 ― Petaling Street traders are objecting to City Hall’s (DBKL) move to revoke their licences over photographs of employees that look like foreign labourers, Sin Chew Daily reported today.

Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association chairman Datuk Ang Say Tee said it was unfair of DBKL to base its decision on the photographs as the local authority could have mistakenly assumed the pictures were of foreigners..

Ang also pointed out that the association has in the past encouraged its members in Petaling Street to employ workers of Malay ethnicity as well as those from Sabah and Sarawak’s indigenous tribes like the Kadazan and Iban.

“In January this year, DBKL hired photographers to take pictures at Petaling Street. If photos are snapped of stalls with foreign labourers in front, the traders’ licences are immediately revoked, and 56 traders’ licences have been revoked.

“But DBKL has not heard the explanation from the traders, and traders who wish to regain their licences have to sign the aku janji (letter of undertaking),” he was quoted saying yesterday by Chinese-language paper Sin Chew Daily in its Metro pullout.

In the copy of the letter of undertaking sighted by Malay Mail Online, seven points were listed, including the undertaking by traders to bar any non-Malaysians from running the stall and carrying out any form of business transaction.

By signing the letter, traders would also express their understanding that foreign labourers ― appointed by the association with the agreement of the Kuala Lumpur mayor ― will only be allowed to work for one hour before and after operating hours, and only for “pushing trolleys, loading/ unloading, arranging, cleaning up and storing items”.

The offending point that Ang singled out during yesterday’s press conference was the sixth item, where traders who sign the letter of undertaking would agree that they understand that “the allocation of my stall’s licence will be revoked without any warning in the event of failure” to comply with the written pledges.

The copy of the letter of undertaking that DBKL wants Petaling Street and Jalan Hang Lekir traders to sign. ― Picture courtesy of Datuk Ang Say Tee
The copy of the letter of undertaking that DBKL wants Petaling Street and Jalan Hang Lekir traders to sign. ― Picture courtesy of Datuk Ang Say Tee


The copy of the letter of undertaking that DBKL wants Petaling Street and Jalan Hang Lekir traders to sign. ― Picture courtesy of Datuk Ang Say Tee
In a November 16 letter to Ang featured by Sin Chew Daily, DBKL noted that the letter of undertaking that it passed to the association on November 4 has yet to be returned, further directing the association to ensure all copies are signed and returned by November 18.

But all 773 members of the association have decided not to sign the copies of letter of undertaking.

Ang said traders in Petaling Street were dissatisfied with DBKL’s conditions and for allegedly singling them out when the local authority oversees 50,000 traders.

“I want to stress, our association has no intention to oppose DBKl, but is only helping the traders to voice out their feelings.

“If the undertaking is to be signed, it should be signed together by all of Kuala Lumpur’s traders of every ethnic group, and not just directed only at Petaling Street’s traders, otherwise there is no need to talk, and our association will also decide to present our objections to DBKL,” he was also quoted saying.

Ang said the association is against foreigners holding stall licences in Petaling Street.

He insisted that such licences were in fact still held by the existing ethnic Chinese traders who also man the stalls personally, while the foreign workers were only hired to move goods and assist in stall operations.