MP Chia Shi-Lu Says Alexandra Market Visit Was More Of An “Education Thing”

As the Covid-19 situation in Singapore continues to escalate, some politicians have taken steps to minimise physical contact with their constituents.

Meet-The-People (MTP) sessions, for example, have recently been moved online.

Online MTP for Minister Desmond Lee’s constituency 
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Tanjong Pagar MP Chia Shi-Lu, however, has garnered criticism of late for physically visiting Alexandra Village Hawker Centre on Sunday (12 Apr) amid the ‘Circuit Breaker‘ (CB).

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While many pointed out that it was a politically-charged move, Dr Chia responded to The Straits Times (ST), saying that he merely advising hawkers to don masks during the visit.

MP Chia Shi-Lu hands out masks to Alexandra Market Hawkers

In the post, Dr Chia said he visited the hawker centre to hand out masks, and to find out how food stall owners are coping with the stricter movement measures.

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Some had apparently shared that they may run out of masks if they are required to wear them while working at the stalls.

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However, business at the hawker centre has reportedly suffered, largely due to fewer people going to work and more choosing to cook at home.

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As such, Dr Chia also took the chance to share with hawkers some schemes and packages that will help tide them through these difficult times.

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Dr Chia wasn’t alone during the visit. Notably, Colonel (COL) Eric Chua, who serves as director of the SGSecure Programme Office was also with Dr Chia at the food centre.

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Alexandra Hawker Centre visit criticised by many

Dr Chia’s visit to the hawker centre has since garnered flak, with many criticising him for “politicising unnecessarily” amid these trying times.

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Numerous opposition members also took to Facebook to slam the walkabout.

Mr Yen Jenn Jong, a former non-constituency MP from the Workers’ Party (WP) questioned if Dr Chia’s visit was “essential” and hope Singapore’s leaders would set a “good example”.

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Mr Koh Choong Yong, another WP member, also penned a similar post, claiming that Dr Chia had violated CB measures and ought to be fined.

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MP Chia clarifies purpose of Alexandra Hawker Centre visit

On Tuesday (14 Apr) morning, ST published an article carrying Dr Chia’s side of the story.

According to the article, Dr Chia insisted he and the group with him were not “doing a walkabout“.

Instead, he clarified that the purpose of his visit was to remind food handlers to don masks. In his words,

It was more an education thing.

Dr Chia also said during the ST interview that Col Chua was “not there to campaign” and highlighted that the SGSecure chief volunteered regularly at the GRC.

Additionally, Dr Chia pointed out that the group he had with him consisted of less than 5 people.

Coincidentally, the People’s Action Party (PAP) announced on Monday (13 Apr) that they will be suspending all ground engagements like MTP sessions, home visits, and market visits.

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This came just 1 day after Lianhe Zaobao published an article covering Dr Chia’s visit to the market.

Coincidence or not, we’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Whichever side you’re on, at least some good came out of the visit

Regardless of whose side you’re on when it comes to this incident, we’re heartened that the PAP has since stepped up to clarify their stance on the matter.

We’re almost certain that Dr Chia’s visit falls under the category of “market visits” that has since been suspended by the PAP.

That said, at least it was for a good cause, helping hawkers with their concerns and advising them on how they can seek help during these difficult times.

Featured image adapted from Facebook and Google Maps