Seating rules hard to swallow

Patrons dining at Anjung Gurney Hawker Centre in Gurney Drive, Penang. — Photo: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

ALREADY badly hit by the pandemic, many hawkers at Penang’s Gurney Drive hawker centre are now being accused of having a poor attitude by other operators there.

Although business is expected to pick up now that the conditional MCO has been lifted, many hawkers worry that the complaints may damage their reputation at the once popular tourist spot.

A muah chee seller, who wanted to be known only as Loon, said certain hawkers there dictated where customers should or should not sit.

“A lot of tables and chairs here are provided by the drinks stalls within the area.

“As each of them provides over 10 tables, competition is strong among the drinks stalls.

“When customers sit at tables but do not order drinks from the stall which provides the table, they are shooed away.

“This causes customers, especially locals, to feel unwelcome, ” she said when met at the Anjung Gurney hawker centre recently.

On Nov 20, The Star had reported that many traders at the hawker centre were suffering from slow business following the conditional MCO.

The report garnered attention from locals who took to social media to comment on the arrogance and bad attitude of the hawkers there.

Some of the locals commented that the arrogant hawkers had now been humbled while others said the hawkers were still rude and that some were petty about seating arrangements.

Rojak stall owner Tan Swee Hoe, 58, said the issue which had been ongoing for some time escalated recently due to the difficult times faced by the hawkers following the conditional MCO.

“Everyone here is just trying to earn a living.

“I really hope there can be a way around this. The Penang Island City Council and state representatives should really step in and help us.

“If it was up to us to solve it, a lot of us would end up arguing.

“We hope that the council can provide the tables and chairs so that hawkers need not bring theirs and cause conflict over the seating arrangements, ” said Tan.

A drinks stall owner, who wanted to be known only as Tat, 68, said he was not one of those who ‘chase’ away a customer when they do not order drinks from him.

“I don’t mind which stall the customers order their drinks from but I am bearing the bad image as well.

“The only way we can solve this is if the authorities step in to iron out the issue, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee Chun Kit said he had received feedback and criticism of the place.

“I have requested the council to review, inspect and take action.

“We cannot allow the bad apples to destroy the image of the place and affect the livelihood of the other hawkers there, ” he said when contacted.

Lee added that there are proposals to fix permanent tables at the joint and that a study is being done on the proposal.

“We need to look at the long-term plan of the hawker centre before we make a decision.

“We will ensure that they have a place to do business fairly, ” he said.

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