Media Release – 7 June 2013

AHPETC: NEA is Politically Motivated to Tarnish the Image of AHPETC

I find the conclusion of the NEA on 6 June 2013 that “AHPETC tried to get hawkers to pay extra cleaning costs, and when that failed it deflected the blame” puzzling and unprofessional as a government agency.

Has AHPETC Tried to Get Hawkers to Pay Extra?

The whole episode started with a Sunday Times report dated 26 May 2013 alluding that Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) is collecting money from stallholders for the cleaning of the market & hawker centre.  Has any stallholder been approached by AHPETC staff or its contractors for the extra charges? If so, please make it public. AHPETC has investigated the claim and found the claim published in the press report to be baseless.

The latest attempt to substantiate this baseless claim was to show a quotation by the cleaning contractor ATL Maintenance Pte Ltd, who has clarified that it was in response to a separate request by the hawker association and not pursuant to its contractual obligation with the Town Council to do annual cleaning of the high areas at markets / hawker centres.

All cleaning contractors employed by AHPETC are well aware of its obligation under the contract to clean the high areas of all the markets under AHPETC management at least once a year.  Anyone who is interested is welcome to inspect the contracts.

Why Town Council cleaning contactor did not clean the high areas of the market at Blk 538 Bedok North Street 3 in March 2013

NEA in its email dated 7 February 2013 categorically stated that “the Hawker Association will make the necessary arrangements with its contractors on the scaffold erection / dismantling during the spring cleaning from 4 – 8 March 2013”.  It is ludicrous that a government agency would claim that its statement means anything else than what it says, and to change its position repeatedly. 

AHPETC took the statement in good faith that NEA had arranged with the hawker association for the same.  The scaffolding was not provided as indicated; hence the AHPETC cleaners were unable to carry out the work of the high areas.

AHPETC did not ask or impose any additional charges for cleaning. 

The Scheduled Dates of Market Annual Cleaning

Based on the past experience of staff of our Managing Agent in managing the market in Hougang Constituency, annual cleaning of the market including ceiling and the high areas could be done without additional closure of the market and disruption of business to hawkers and customers.  This can be done by taking advantage of the weekly one-day closures for markets and the hours when hawker stalls are closed. 

AHPETC will set the date of annual cleaning and will inform stallholders nearer to the scheduled date and coordinate with the stallholders.   AHPETC is prepared to consider any stallholders’ request on cleaning arrangements to ensure smooth operations and to minimize disruption to their business and inconvenience to customers.

Is NEA Playing Politics?

Being a responsible Town Council with the interest of residents and stallholders at heart, AHPETC is always prepared to work with the relevant government agencies for the benefit of the residents it serves.  Even in cases where we may have disagreed with the approach of the agency, we are always prepared to compromise and to work together for common good, so long as the interest of residents is not jeopardised.

AHPETC positively responded to NEA’s advisory dated 31 May 2013 which was published by the press on 1 June 2013.  AHPETC welcomed NEA’s clarification on the issue of hawker centre cleaning, and stated that “AHPETC is mindful of its responsibilities for the maintenance and cleanliness of common properties, including HDB-owned markets and hawker centres to safeguard public hygiene and safety. We will use our best endeavors to work with all stakeholders to bring any outstanding issues to an amicable resolution.”

NEA’s stance regrettable

Therefore, it is regrettable that our attempts to resolve the issue amicably have not been reciprocated, with the government taking the opportunity to point fingers at AHPETC, alleging that it was AHPETC which was “deflecting blame”.  Who is really the party deflecting blame?  I set out the facts above and I believe that the public can judge for itself.


7 June 2013