KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu Gaya Street Hawkers Association is calling on the relevant authority to replant those trees along Gaya Street that have been removed to make way for more parking lots.
During the association’s Chinese New Year dinner held here on Wednesday, president Peter Yong Ket Yin said the association had come under a lot of pressure and criticized for the lack of cooperation and communication from the relevant authorities.
He said the relevant authority had cut and removed trees along Gaya Street to create more parking space for more profit, without even considering that these trees provided shade for the hawkers and only telling them that the trees were removed because they were already damaged.
“If the relevant authority had communicated with the association prior to cutting down the trees, they would know that the hawkers themselves have watered and fertilized the trees for many years. So how can they say the trees were damaged? Without the shade provided by the trees, some hawkers were known to have fainted due to the intense heat,” he disclosed.
The Chinese New Year dinner was also a farewell dinner for the current office bearers as the association will be electing new committee members on March 26. The guest-of-honour for the dinner was Frankie Liew.
Yong also raised the issue of ‘outsiders’ selling spurious products on Gaya Street and has urged the authority concerned not to issue licences to them.
He said hawkers pay a licence fee to set up their booths on Gaya Street. However, if they do not carry out any business for some reasons, the relevant authority would rent out the space at RM50 to a third party or ‘outsiders’ selling spurious products like caps, wallets and sunglasses.
The cost of these spurious products may only be a few ringgit, but these hawkers would sell them at a much higher price, even more than RM100 to tourists, Yong said.
This, Yong pointed out, would create a negative image of Gaya Street, which is known for its affordable products, among tourists visiting us.
“I hope the relevant authority will cooperate with us to not allow these outsiders to enter and be able to flog their spurious goods on Gaya Street.”
In addition, Yong hoped the relevant authority would communicate with the association prior to implementing any policies on the Sunday market at Gaya Street, so that the hawkers there could provide their feedback and opinions accordingly.
He also called on hawkers who have yet to become a member of the association to join the Kota Kinabalu Gaya Street Hawkers Association in order to have a bigger say in protecting the members’ interests.
Meanwhile, Liew said Gaya Street had not only attracted locals to shop there, but also become a must-visit destination for overseas tourists visiting Sabah.
He hoped the Sunday market will be a safe and unique place to shop for local products, that can attract more tourists. This can be done if the association members are united in one purpose, along with the ‘user friendly’ policies of the relevant authorities.
Liew reminded the people to treasure Chinese New Year celebration as it involved all levels of society, regardless of their political background or status.
Present at the dinner were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai and wife Datin Vicky Yee, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Edward Khoo Keok Hai, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing, Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah and wife Datin Mary Wong, Luyang assemblywoman Melanie Chia and her husband Edwin Liew, Likas assemblyman Datuk Liew Teck Chan, MCA Penampang division chairman Datuk Paul Kong, Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir and wife, and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin.