Since its facelift in 2011, Pulau Tikus Market has become more than just a place to go to for groceries and hawker fare.
Ch'ng Shi P'ng
For many local residents, flocking to the centrally located Pulau Tikus Market is a morning ritual. It is a popular place for groceries and daily essentials; vendors selling anything from meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits and spices to newspapers, clothing and flowers clamour for the attention of shoppers.
And for students and workers heading into town, it is a strategic breakfast pit stop. The coffee shops and hawker stalls that surround the market serve local delights like char koay kak, chicken rice, mee rebus, hokkien mee, satay and lok lok.
But although the market has been a part of life for many Penangites, it was always poorly maintained in the past. Floors were badly cracked and the metal supporting pillars were often attacked by rust.
These unsavoury features were not only bad for business; they were bad for health too. Germs and microorganisms grew in the cracks, and the humidity promoted microbial growth. Other problems included bad access to clean water for the vendors and degraded store counters. Rough and slippery floors made shopping in the market perilous for everyone.
Over the last few years, however, the state government and MBPP realised a need to ensure that safety standards at the market are met. MBPP allocated money to restore and upgrade the market from April to December 2011. This included the restoration of ground facilities (floor) and of store counters.
The council built new public restrooms for greater convenience, improved the electrical wiring and repainted the framework of the market building. All this helped to freshen up the place and make it an even more welcoming than before.
Cleaner and tidier facilities for market traders and goers.
Composting for a Greener, Cleaner Penang
The state has also encouraged recycling practices there, such as food waste management. In 2013 residents of Penang Island disposed of approximately 355,000 kilos of food every day, and food waste amounted to 45% of the total solid waste collected in 2012. The majority of this waste ended up in the Jelutong or Pulau Burung landfill. The tremendous amount of food waste raises environmental concerns as its decomposition generates methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more damaging for the environment than carbon dioxide.
One of 14 waste-processing machines on the island was placed at Pulau Tikus Market by the MBPP in 2011, making food recycling there more convenient. This converts food waste into soil enhancers, which can conveniently replace chemical fertilisers.
Administering from Grassroots
Since 2008 the council has taken an interactive approach in serving local communities by using the feedback system. This has enabled it to administer the market efficiently. Market vendors work directly with the council and Pulau Tikus assemblyperson Yap Soo Huey through the Pulau Tikus Market Traders Association. Traders, through this communication channel, get to voice their opinions and concerns relating to day-to-day operations in the market; at the same time, the local authority gets to be more efficient in handling the market’s affairs.
For maximum effect, the council encourages residents to provide feedback and suggestions for the improvement of public services, infrastructure and local amenities. Residents have the option to communicate directly with the council through the local councillor, the e-aduan website (http:// aduan.mbpp.gov.my/complaint_eng.html) or the BetterPenang mobile application.
Chris Lee is an MBPP councillor. He believes in pragmatic approaches when it comes to politics and hopes to see Malaysians become more empowered. He also loves chicken rice.