Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wet markets - leave it to market forces??

Today's TODAY had a nicely reasoned letter written by a Cheng Shoong Tat. In it he argued that the free market model is constrained in it's ability to determine optimal land use; this in the context of the wet market debate.

"The HDB owes affected residents a duty to thoroughly evaluate the impact of such change of use on the character and quality of life in the community in question. Although not legally obliged to do so, the HDB should consider polling the views of affected residents now that it has become clear that this issue is certainly no storm in a teacup.

The authorities should be mindful of an important factor not usually captured in land use consideration: Our collective memory. Buildings and other physical structures are an important anchor for a young people like us; to many Singaporeans, the humble wet market is an important part of that memory."

Well said.

This is in contrast to the recent Straits Times editorial which argued for letting market forces determine the fate of wet markets.

Wet markets are part of the life of the community, and they cannot be allowed to live or die purely through market forces. They are really no different from considerations of whether the HDB estate requires a park, or a playing field/swimming pool. If these are forced to meet bottom line considerations we would not have any parks or sports facilities.

Likewise, the wet market.

So my plea to the HDB and the Town Councils is, "Please Sir, let them be!".

And to the residents, please go to your respective Town Councils and let them know your sentiments about the impending doom of the wet markets.

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