Going bonkers over Jonker Walk

P Gunasegaram
Jun 28, 2013

QUESTION TIME The closing down of the Jonker Walk night market in Malacca’s Chinatown is yet another reflection and manifestation of the hard stand that some people within Umno are taking against the so-called ‘Chinese tsunami’ in the last general election.

While common sense may have prevailed to stop this totally short-sighted move by the new chief minister of Malacca, who is now vigorously backpedalling after his earlier outbursts and his highly irrational justification of the closure, that something like this can happen is a major cause for concern.

Various quarters – and especially Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia – have systematically attempted to fan Malay hatred against the Chinese by perpetrating half-truths, portraying the swing of Chinese votes away from BN as a plot by the community to take over political power.

Although such an assertion cannot be true simply because Chinese voters only form some 28 percent of the total, and the opposition which also has Malay-based parties such as PKR and PAS for whom the Chinese voted, no major Umno leader has come out to openly condemn such blatantly racist and possibly seditious remarks aimed at inciting racial tensions.

his has resulted in more so-called Malay champions such as the Malacca chief minister coming forward to do what they, in their myopic view, see as their duty to punish those who voted against the BN, and especially the Chinese.

While Malacca Chief Minister Idris Haron now denies that there was an element of punishment in the move to close the Jonker Walk night market and insists that traffic alleviation was the purpose, that was not what he maintained at first.

Malaysiakini reported that according to Kwong Wah Daily, Idris had argued that the decision passed by the Malacca executive council on June 12 to close the night market – which has been attracting tourists for 13 years – “follows the intention of the people”.

Idris reminded that it was DAP that protested against the state government’s decision to cordon off Jonker Walk from road users to make way for the night market, when the idea was first mooted.

That time, he said, DAP slammed the state government for sacrificing the interests of road users to benefit only some 200 hawkers.

‘We hope they will be happy’

“Now, we see most of the Malacca residents fully supporting DAP over MCA candidates who have been serving them. Hence, we decided to cancel the night market and we hope they will be happy,” the daily quotes Idris as saying.

He admitted that MCA’s electoral defeat in the state prompted the closure of Jonker Walk. Incredibly, he added that he was not worried about the impact of the closure as there were other tourist destinations in Malacca.

However, Idris backtracked when Tourism Minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz (left) denied that the Jonker Walk night market has been closed down in order to punish Chinese hawkers who did not support MCA and the government in the May 5 general election.

In the meantime, the prime minister weighed in by saying that he will discuss the closure of Jonker Walk with the state government, putting further pressure on Idris. Perhaps the hitherto little-known Idris might take comfort in the fact that he is now the centre of attention and that he might be regarded among Umno hardliners as a sort of hero.

If he intends to go for a position in the Umno polls later this year, the entire silly episode may give him some standing. Aspiring, upcoming politicians know only too well that taking a hard stance is one of the quickest ways of getting recognised. Loss of credibility is probably more than compensated for by name recognition.

What is amazing about this entire event is that a chief minister can go to the extent of deliberately closing down Jonker Walk, affect the livelihood of perhaps up to 200 stall and shop owners, and even adversly affect the tourism industry, which is a mainstay of Malacca’s economy.

If so many tourists are coming to Malacca and causing traffic jams in and around Malacca because of Jonker Walk and its attractions, surely the solution must lie in easing the traffic congestion rather than killing the golden goose.

Those who come to Jonker Street surely will also go to other parts of Malacca and partake of its other offerings. It stands to reason that everyone – not just Jonker Street traders whatever race they may be – will benefit if more people come to the street.

But the ultimate result of hate-mongering is that the nose is cut to spite the entire face. Let’s stop these kinds of incidents in their tracks, focus on what is best for everyone, and let reason and common sense prevail.

Unfortunately, this is something we seem to be finding increasingly harder to do in the wake of the general election.

P GUNASEGARAM is founding editor of KiniBiz.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 7:41 am

    Malaysia needs far-sighted, visionary leaders with open-minds and not myopic leaders with infantile minds!!!

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 7:48 am

    Why have no one pointed out that Idris’s excuse for closing down the night market is simply a stupid excuse to try to cover up a stupid idea in the first place?

    Seriously, he wanted to go back 13 years as an excuse – kind of what Perkasa want to go back to the lie of May 13 as their excuse. Did anyone check if Idris Haron is a card-carrying member of Perkasa? 13 years ago, DAP was right to insist on not closing the lane for the night market because 13 years ago it was not a tourist attraction and Melaka tourist industry was not developed yet and there was plenty of alternative for only 200 hawkers. And today DAP is again right for insisting they don’t close the night market.

    Its called having a brain which we now have to ask whether Idris Haron has one or what we have is just a poor copy of Ali Rustam which took forever to get rid of..

  3. #3 by worldpress on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 9:10 am

    This corrupted voted by rural

    It is logic, their administration fee should be paid by rural voters

    PK voters have no interest their administration

  4. #4 by pulau_sibu on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 9:32 am

    is this going to hurt the UNESCO heritage statue?

  5. #5 by Jong on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 9:35 am

    High ego Idris Haron should get down from his high chair; thinks he’s super new broom sweeps clean eh? Get down to work and stop playing politics, damnit!

  6. #6 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 10:02 am

    Umno idiots are super capable of shooting themselves in the foot. The bullets will still find their way to the foot even if the gun is aimed elsewhere. That is umno for you!

  7. #7 by Sallang on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 10:17 am

    Those streets around the area, like Jalan Hang Jebat, Jln. Hang Lekiu, Jln Hang Tuah,Heeren Strt. and Jln Tukang Besi are all very narrow streets.
    If I were the Chief Minister, I would have introduced ‘Horse Carriage’,or ‘Bullock cart’ which would have ‘nostalgia’.
    Surely, won’t cause traffic jam, and no sound pollution too.

  8. #8 by worldpress on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 12:42 pm

    Recent GE13 billed 400 millions

    PR should demand who is paying this bill 400m

    Is it mostly by rural voters?

    Is it mostly by urban voters?

    if PK supporters paying the majority percentage PK MP should demand proper transparency spending of money

    It look like they spend urban voter money to attack bully urban voters

  9. #9 by tuahpekkong on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 2:48 pm

    Close down the Jonker Walk night market today, what’s next? Revoke the licences of the hawkers there just because the majority of them supported the DAP? Aren’t we a democratic country and the rakyat are free to choose whichever party to represent them? Perhaps UMNO does not understand the meaning of the word “democracy” or perhaps they are just being vindictive? It is little wonder that we are still a third world country because there are still many in UMNO having the same mentality as the Malacca CM. Gua tak sokong, gua tak sokong.

  10. #10 by omeqiu on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 5:53 pm

    Jonker’s WALKING is for WALKING. Learn some basic English!

  11. #11 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 9:34 pm

    1contoh negara demokrasi terbaik dunia oleh umno baru a…tak suka? Pergi indon buka Jamal Jalan

  12. #12 by john on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 10:30 pm

    With the coming Bumno EGM, to expect more of such stupid acts from these scumbags. Is all just LeaderSHIT By Example advocated by ONE Mamak and his Clones.

  13. #13 by bloodiful on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 11:26 pm

    i m going to

  14. #14 by bloodiful on Saturday, 29 June 2013 - 11:41 pm

    the way OUMNO thinks is very weird,we can see from most of their top guns reaction after the GE-13,despite being the ruling party and able to form the federal government,they are very unhappy and angry toward chinese,they asked silly question why chinese didnt vote them?if this is the case,we must vote to favour them,might as well no need to have election right?ask the ex CM,i think he knows the answer.

  15. #15 by on cheng on Monday, 1 July 2013 - 3:08 pm

    Maybe, say… each of those hawker pay that Id… H.. personally say, RM30 each per night? Hei ! Hei ! Can or Not?

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