Relocation of disabled vendors causes outcry

The relocation of five disabled vendors away from their designated lots at Taman Megah Market prompted several NGOs to protest the proposal by an MBPJ councillor.

Organised by the Independent Learning and Training Centre, the protest saw Damansara Utama assemblyman Cheah Wing Soon, MBPJ’s disabled councillor Anthony Thanasayan, and Taman Megah resident association chairman Francis Lee gather around 12pm and carry placards chiding the council for discriminating against the disabled.

The five vendors, some of whom are wheelchair-bound, were allegedly pressured by local councillor Tiew Way Keng to vacate their current lots at the front row (lots B1 to B5) of the market and shift to lots situated at the middle row (lot B11 to B15).

The move, as Tiew told them, is for the convenience of vegetable vendors located in the middle row, who complained of inadequate trading space there.

However, Lee said that balloting for the lots had already been conducted prior to the opening of the market.

“It was agreed then that the first row of lots, which faces the main road and is close to a wheelchair ramp, should be given to less able-bodied vendors to sell dry goods,” he said.

The conflict arose in the first week of the market’s opening, September last year, when vegetable vendors began demanding for a lot swap with the disabled vendors in the first row.

Disabled forced to apologise to Tiew

Tiew claims he was only responding to the vegetable vendors’ suggestions.

The row escalated when the owners of the current front row stalls did not have their business licences renewed by MBPJ last month. They also claim to have been harassed by both MBPJ enforcement officers and the vegetable vendors since then.

Cho Seak Nee, a wheelchair-bound vendor who sells frozen foods, claims she was told by the vegetable vendors last week to apologise to Tiew.

“They asked me to say sorry to Tiew because without her, I would not be what I am today,” said Cho, who used to travel around Puchong and Old Klang road areas to earn a living.

Thanasayan decried the incident as an attempt to sideline the disabled.

“Are they trying to push us to the (middle row) so that nobody can see us? This is not the society we want,” he said.

He said that having lots for the disabled at the front row is not unusual, and there is no reason for a swap.

The Petpositive chairman said he would “battle till the very end” to ensure MBPJ does not shift the front row vendors.