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10-year news archives reveal intrigues on Subang Jaya wet market

The usjXpress Team dug into ten years of news archive at a media portal and discovered many questions that require good answers... MPPJ made and broke its promises to hand-over building funds... MPSJ wants its own modern, sophisticated market in SS19
Posted on 11.45pm Jan 27, 2001

TAIPAN USJ... The last nail on Subang Jaya wet market might not be right here... - SPECIAL REPORT -

By The usjXpress Team
Email: edteam@usj.com.my


SUBANG JAYA - The usjXpress Team dug into ten years of news archive at a media portal and discovered many questions that require good answers.

FLASHBACK: 1991
The SS19 site for the wet market was earmarked as early as in 1991, The usjXpress Team found out.

According to a report on the City Extra, New Straits Times (June 21, 1991), the then Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) Town Planning officer James Fredericks was quoted as saying "Subang Jaya will get a new hawker centre and a wet market once the Selangor Government hands over a plot of land in SS19 to the council."

Then, Subang Jaya was under the administration of MPPJ as the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) only came into being in January 1997.

The SS19 site was chosen as the existing Subang Jaya wet market at SS15/4 had to make way for a 6-storey office block called the "Professional Building".

FLASHBACK: 1992
According to a Bernama dispatch on August 22, 1992, the office block would be built at a cost of RM80 million.

The then MPPJ president, Iskandar Astar, said it was part of a proposed re-development project aimed at establishing Subang Jaya as a business and commercial centre. The office block was envisioned to only have professional firms of doctors, engineers, lawyers and architects as its occupants.

The office block, completed in 1999, was renamed "Subang Square".

SS19: RM2 MILLION

FLASHBACK: 1993
The Malay Mail (January 19, 1993) reported a market-cum-hawker centre would be built at SS19/6 to accommodate the make-shift hawkers there, and to house the 78 traders from the SS15/4 wet market.

The paper quoted then Lindungan state assemblyman Kapt (Rtd) Zahar Hashim, who was also a MPPJ councillor as saying that "the company appointed to turn the SS15 wet market into a professional building will spend almost RM2 million to build the market-cum-hawker centre in SS19."

FLASHBACK: 1994
A year later, MPPJ decided to cancel the proposed wet market-cum-hawker centre due to the "worsening congestion in SS19", said New Straits Times (October 21, 1994).

On the same day, The Malay Mail quoted a source saying "the project was cancelled as it was found not viable and not very conducive to the current situation."

To accommodate the 78 traders affected by the demolishment of the SS15/4 wet market, MPSJ decided to "divide" them among existing markets in Petaling Jaya.

This decision was opposed strongly by the traders and hawkers, most of them have been trading at SS15/4 for almost 12 years.

They claimed it was unfair to relocate them and that it would be inconvenient for them and their customers.

The stalemate dragged on for about a year and MPPJ finally decided to move the wet market traders into temporary premises in the compound of the multi-purpose hall in Jalan SS15/8.

FLASHBACK: 1995
Lee Hwa Beng, then first term Subang Jaya state assemblyman and MPPJ councillor, said the municipal council have met the traders' requirements to ensure they move to the SS15/8 temporary site.

The traders were given a 60-day notice to relocate by end of September, 1995. Due to teething problems, the relocation exercise was only completed on October 3.

SS15: RM8.5 MILLION

In November 1995, MPPJ has decided to move the newly resettled hawkers - again - from the Jalan SS18/8 centre to a vacant lot next to the Inti College by early 1996 to make way for a market-cum-hawkers centre.

Subang Jaya ADUN Lee Hwa Beng told The Malay Mail (November 30, 1995) that "the 0.2 hectare site will house 73 hawkers from the SS15 centre and five from the old wet market that was demolished for the 'Professional Building'".

According to New Straits Times (December 25, 1995), Subang Jaya ADUN Lee Hwa Beng had asked the councillors at the MPPJ full board meeting, chaired by the then Kampung Tunku ADUN Khoo Ooi Seng, to agree to the decision because "an immediate agreement on the matter would enable the hawkers to be relocated faster."

FLASHBACK: 1996
In early 1996, it was generally decided that the wet market-cum-hawker centre would be built at SS15/8 at a cost of RM8.5 million.

Incidentally, it was also a time when the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) was being created to take over the administration responsibility over Subang Jaya from MPPJ from January 1997.

Hence the RM8.5 million question: Who would pay for the new market?

Subang Jaya ADUN Lee Hwa Beng told New Straits Times (February 14, 1996) that "he was not sure if the MPSJ would take over the funding of the project from MPPJ which had earlier allocated funds for it."

Lee was also preoccupied with the urgency to relocate the hawkers at the SS15/8 temporary market as the RM8.5 million project could not start until they were moved to a vacant lot next to Into College.

SUBANG SQUARE

Meanwhile, the new MPPJ president Mohamed Nor Bador announced on April 9, 1996 that the council was re-evaluating the privatisation of the RM8.5 million market-cum-hawker centre project at the privatisation committee meeting scheduled for April 18.

On April 19, both New Straits Times and The Malay Mail reported MPPJ was working out a detailed plan to replace the proposed three-and-a-half-storey market-cum-hawker centre in SS15, and quoted Lee Hwa Beng as saying that "the new plan would be a better concept as it used less space".

The revised plan was approved in September 1996, according to The Malay Mail (September 1996).

Meanwhile, other events happened concurrently.

EVENT #1: SUBANG SQUARE
On April 21, The Sunday Mail reported that MPPJ would hold a meeting at 5pm the same day to brief residents on the Subang Square project.

ADUN Lee told the tabloid that "the meeting was to clear the air on misinformation or doubts residents might have on the privatised project".

EVENT #2: MPPJ-MPSJ TRANSITION
With the impending creation of MPSJ which will take over the administration of Subang Jaya, MPSJ seemed to be debating on whether to proceed with the building of Subang Jaya market project at the SS15 commercial hub.

Though MPPJ scheduled the market-cum-hawker centre to be completed by mid 1997, its privatisation committee meeting decided in September 1996 to allow MPSJ to decide on the fate of the temporary wet market located at the site.

Notably, the budget for the project had been reduced to RM5 million as far as the news archives could indicate.

FLASHBACK: 1997
As soon as MPSJ came into being on January 1, 1997, the land on which the proposed three-storey market-cum-hawker centre in Jalan SS15/8 was handed over to the new municipal council.

However, on January 30, MPPJ announced that it would still undertake the construction of the proposed three-storey centre. MPPJ publicly pledged its undertaking again in March.

This is when MPSJ president Ahmad Fuad Ismail made his entry on the issue, and engaged MPPJ in a "silent war".

SILENT WAR

Despite being tagged as "zero experience in running a local authority", MPSJ's pioneer president, Ahmad Fuad Ismail fired the first salvo and announced the council's decision to freeze plans to build the Jalan SS15/8 market-cum-hawker centre.

According New Straits Times (April 18, 1997), "the council wanted to study the suitability of a wet market in the area".

MPPJ president Datuk Mohammad Nor Bador made a swift response by saying that his council will hand over the RM5 million allocated for the Jalan SS15/8 wet market to MPSJ.

He was quoted by New Straits Times (April 22, 1997) as saying that "MPSJ could build the market or decide on an alternative project if it so wish".

Ahmad Fuad later elaborated in New Straits Times (May 12, 1997) his vision for Subang Jaya as a trend-setter in the provision of markets - clean, modern, sophisticated dry markets.

However, Ahmad Fuad's vision was not shared by wet market traders operating in the municipality, noted New Straits Times (May 16, 1997).

The traders felt that wet markets should be retained as they were much more successful and popular with shoppers than dry markets.

At this point, MPPJ secretary Kamarul Baharin Datuk Abdul Raof rubbed in publicly saying that "MPSJ could approach MPPJ for help anytime, especially to clarify details pertaining to hawker licensing and construction of the market-cum-hawker centre in Subang Jaya".

New Straits Times (May 23, 1997) quoted Kamarul as saying that "communication channels were open and clear for both parties to discuss and debate over certain issues".

The squabble escalated in August 1997 when Ahmad Fuad publicly demanded MPPJ to hand over the design and RM5 million promised for the proposed wet market-cum-hawker centre.

The Malay Mail (October 14, 1997) quoted ADUN Lee as saying "MPPJ president Datuk Mohamad Nor Bador has promised to forward the design to MPSJ soon".

However, MPPJ went back on its words on timeline and allocation when its president said MPSJ had to apply for the RM3.5 million MPPJ allocated for the SS15 wet market.

In addition, MPPJ's Datuk Mohamad Nor Bador told The Malay Mail (December 23, 1997) the RM3.5 million allocation would only be released after MPSJ has endorsed the development plan, location, design and costing of the project.

New Straits Times (December 23, 1997) described this as a "required procedure" which MPSJ should have known already.

FLASHBACK: 1998
The stalemate was drawn into 1998 when Ahmad Fuad quoted a 1997 meeting between MPPJ, MPSJ and Shah Alam Municipal Council (MPSA) where it was agreed all land owned by the former administrators under the boundary re-alignment had to be handed over to the new council.

As such, Ahmad Fuad told New Straits Times (January 26, 1998) that MPPJ should in principle hand over the title of the land in SS15 earmarked for the wet market.

MPPJ was conspicuously silent after this public exchange between the presidents of the two municipality councils.

BACK TO SS19

FLASHBACK: 1999
In 1999, Ahmad Fuad embarked on his drive to relocate the controversial wet market-cum-hawker centre to SS19 despite protests by residents and hawkers living in the area.

Ahmad Fuad reiterated his rationale, twice in New Straits Times (January 13 and April 20, 1999) and again in The Malay Mail (February 1, 1999), on the argument that "the site had been earmarked for a market as stated in brochure issued by Sime UEP Development Sdn Bhd when residents moved in years ago.

Meanwhile, the conflict between MPPJ and MPSJ over the Subang Jaya wet market project was getting more intense and complicating.

New Straits Times (May 17, 1999) carried a story where MPSJ accused MPPJ of not being forthcoming with its contribution for the project as promised.

Seeing no response from MPPJ, Ahmad Fuad went public again to propose a deal.

According to New Straits Times (July 15, 1999), MPSJ was willing to bear the construction cost of the proposed wet market at SS19/6 provided the MPPJ gave up its "hold" (properties) in the privatised Subang Square project at SS15.

MPPJ was believed to have gained ownership of a few holdings in the Subang Square project out of the privatised projects in collaboration with Muhibbah Permai Sdn Bhd.

Response to the Subang Square commercial units was said to be lukewarm as the project was launched during the economic downturn.

Later, Ahmad Fuad told New Straits Times (December 7, 1999) that MPPJ was only willing to release RM3.4 million in instalments as part of the building cost of the market.

In early 2001, MPSJ had wanted to go ahead with the construction of the wet market at SS19. By then, the cost was said to have bloated to RM15 million.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history.


Datuk Menteri Besar intervened, market to shift to Taipan USJ

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