MALACCA: The Jonker Walk committee has pointed out the irony in DAP’s attempt to champion for Jonker Walk, saying the party had opposed the project when it started in 2000.
Malacca DAP leaders had criticised the setting up of Jonker Walk then, claiming it would cause a traffic bottleneck here besides jeopardising its historical status, said Jonker Walk committee deputy chairman Datuk Gan Tian Loo.
Gan accused DAP now of “feigning sympathy” with the affected traders of Jonker Walk, where the state authorities are currently allowing traffic to pass through during weekends in a bid to ease congestion.
The Jonker Walk night market is open from Fridays to Saturdays. It became a controversy of late when the state government announced that traffic would now be allowed to pass through the area in a move to ease traffic snarl.
Traders were upset with the plan, prompting DAP to announce its intention to “save” Jonker Walk.
Gan said DAP had once alleged that the Jonker Walk committee had obtained permission to set up the night market due to its close rapport with then Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.
“At one point, the Opposition alleged that the traders at the site were arrogant because Jonker Walk was a success story,” he said.
Gan said state DAP leaders had often appeared in vernacular newspapers back then, pressing for the closure of Jonker Walk.
“Today, we see them going around condemning the committee members of being afraid to stand up for the traders. Actually, we have been bringing up the matter with the state government since the decision was made to reopen the road to traffic.”
Gan said his father Datuk Gan Boon Leong, the founder of Jonker Walk, was heckled by a handful of traders who took sides with DAP leaders when he made a walkabout on Friday.
“My dad hatched the idea of opening Jonker Walk to help people who had no stable monthly income back then,” he said.
However, he said the older traders knew how the Opposition had reacted when Jonker Walk first started.
Gan admitted that there was a “stalemate” in a meeting with the Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron to rescind a decision to allow traffic into Jonker Walk.
“The committee will try to meet him again to ask him to look into the predicament of the traders,” he said.
Kota Melaka MP and former state DAP chairman Sim Tong Him admitted that his party leaders had initially opposed the setting up of Jonker Walk.
“It is an old story. Today, we are here to give support to the affected traders,” he said.