Hawkers expect brighter days with reopening of Bukit Mertajam temple


The 133-year-old Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple in Bukit Mertajam has been restored, bringing much-needed income for hawkers in the vicinity. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

ABOUT 95% of 40 hawkers who were relocated when Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple in Jalan Pasar, Bukit Mertajam in Penang was damaged in a fire, will be back in business at their former site before Chinese New Year.

Temple president Datuk Seri Bey Leang Seng said most of the hawkers were expected to resume operations by December or early January.

“We have plans to build more stalls to accommodate them,” said Bey at the reopening of the temple after its restoration.

The hawkers will be charged RM500 rental a month, including water and electricity.

The temple was restored at a cost of RM10mil and had to be almost completely rebuilt after the fire three years ago.

There are now 17 double-storey shoplots next to the temple.

The upper floor of some units has been converted into a museum showcasing the history of the temple and Bukit Mertajam.

Bey said all the income obtained from the temple and its properties was channelled to charities and Chinese schools such as Jit Sin High School, Jit Sin Independent High School and Jit Sin Primary School A&B in Bukit Mertajam.

He added that the temple had been giving around RM800,000 annually to these schools.

Hawker Teoh Hee Hak, 57, said he had been selling lobak at a stall near the temple for 20 years.

“After the fire, the Covid-19 pandemic hit but now that the temple has reopened, things should improve.”

Devotee HK Khor, 71, who came from Kepala Batas, is grateful that the temple has been restored to its former glory.

During the fire that happened on July 3, 2019, about 70% of the temple that was built in 1886 was razed. Only its wooden pillars and beams were left standing.

Three consecrated statues of the principal deity Xuan Wu as well as Tua Pek Kong and Tam Kung were also destroyed.

Fortunately, the temple had wanted to embark on a restoration project since 2015, and these plans came in handy after the fire.

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