Polo Ground Issue: Why are we, the licensed vendors, who need to move?

By Balqis Jazimah Zahari & Anne Das
Photos Rosli Mansor Ahmad Razali

IPOH -Seven of the licensed hawkers at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recreational Park (Polo Ground) here are standing their ground and disagree with the proposed relocation of all traders to a new location.

This is because the proposed new location, in a nearby area is considered unsuitable and impractical for both hawkers and buyers.

Ipoh Laksa stall hawker, Zulkarnain Zainal, 53, said that the issue of endless congestion in the city’s iconic location is caused by the uncontrolled entry of unlicensed hawkers.

According to him, the influx of new hawkers has become increasingly acute since they were given temporary licenses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We hope that the enforcement by Ipoh City Council (MBI) against unlicensed traders will be more stringent, similar to the enforcement of hawkers at Taman Dr Seenivasagam.

“The control of the hawkers at Polo Ground should be as it was before, so that there no additional stalls that are unlicensed in the area which makes the place congested as it is now,” he told reporters from the Ipoh Echo and Peraktastic here.

He also questioned the proposal to move all the hawkers since the problem was clearly caused by unlicensed traders.

“Why do we, the legitimate licensed hawkers, who have been in business for 23 years be the ones who also move?  Why not just move those who are not licensed?.

“So, in this regard, we seven licensed traders here seem to also be punished for the congestion issue that has escalated.

“We licensed traders do not agree, in fact we have even voiced this out during a recent meeting with MBI,” he said.

Polo Ground Cendol hawker, S Vijenidran said that the proposed new location was not suitable for the capacity of current hawkers to move to the said location.

“To be fair, licensed and unlicensed traders should not be in one location.

“In the past it wasn’t as crowded like today, the congestion that happens now is because of all the unlicensed hawkers added to the licensed ones in area,” he said.

Popular Kedah Laksa stall hawker, Mohamad Aminudin Abdullah, 67, said that stricter enforcement should be imposed on unlicensed hawkers.

“We, the original traders, have previously met with MBI several times before they finally issued the license. All of us licensed traders have adhered to all the requirements and conditions set by MBI.

“The temporary licenses were given out during the pandemic which was understandable as everyone was trying to earn a living but times have changed now.

“There was strict control then and action was diligently taken, we often had to pay fines, some hawkers’ goods were carted away, but since these (unlicensed) hawkers came, no such action has been taken,” he said.

Laksa Padang Polo hawker, Omar Kamaruddin, 63, said that several issues relating to hawkers previously, have still not been resolved. Now we have an added issue about the relocation of hawkers.

He said, he hopes that MBI will review the proposal and find a better solution for all parties involved.

“All seven of us licensed traders do not agree to be transferred to another location. We will remain in our existing area as agreed by the MBI in 2003,” he said.

Meanwhile, a frequent customer from Kuala Lumpur, Siti Ayshah Omar, 29, said as a fan of the stalls Polo Ground, she disagreed with the proposal to move the hawkers from the original location.

“I don’t really agree with the proposed new location because it’s more relaxed here, if you come with your family, you can have fun while eating in such a nice open area.

“At the new location it is a bit secluded from visitors, we might not go because the atmosphere is very different., “she said when met at the location.

A regular customer, Norasiah Mat Azraai, 35, is also of the opinion that the original licensed holders are not the cause of the problem of congestion in the area.

“It never used to be as crowded as this, in my opinion, the original laksa traders should be here and the non-laksa traders can be moved to the new location.

“I strongly disagree with the relocation proposal, because everyone knows that if you are looking for ‘Laksa Padang Polo’ it is found here and nowhere else, “ she said.

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