Unknown temporary hawkers were selling fruits and vegetables in previously unoccupied shops at Tsing Yi’s Cheung Fat Market on Monday as original stall owners began a week-long strike against Link REIT, Ming Pao reported. Fearing rising rents, around 90 per cent of the market’s stall owners closed up shop on Monday in protest of the real estate company’s decision to outsource the market’s management operations.

market hawkers
Photo: Cheungfatmarket, via Facebook.

On Monday afternoon, some of the striking stall owners went to the market and formed a human chain around the unknown hawkers to stop them from conducting business.

market hawkers
Photo: Cheungfatmarket, via Facebook.

Cheung Fat Market Concern Group claimed on Facebook that a Link REIT staff member had said the unknown hawkers are “Link REIT tenants” and had refused to remove them from the premises. The group, however, said that they did not see any commercial registration documents, lease or permits from Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD).

Photo: Cheungfatmarket, via Facebook.

“We are responsible for managing and leasing out premises. These premises were unoccupied. We have the right to lease out these premises,” Link REIT Director of Corporate Communications & External Relations Lo Bing-chung told RTHK.

【突發-長發街市進展】由領展單方面將長發街市外判於建華管理公司(即良景事件中的相同管理公司)而引發的罷市行動今日開始,期望以此方式要求領展承諾與商販對話。踏入下午,街市突然出現數檔「生面口」小販,並表示已獲領展批准在長發街市擺賣。長發邨商戶聯會主席向我們表示從未見過這些小販,並形容領展對事件火上加油。密切跟進。#青年新政 #youngspiration

Posted by 青年新政 – Youngspiration on Monday, 15 February 2016

He added that Link REIT, the real estate investment trust responsible for running the market, has done everything required of them to ensure that residents’ needs are served, including providing a shuttle bus for them to purchase goods elsewhere.

hawkers market
Photo: Cheungfatmarket, via Facebook.

Lo said that he felt the criticism of the company was unreasonable. “They [stall owners] talked about the possibility of rising rents – we haven’t even begun discussing it with them.”

link reit cheung fat market
Tenants protesting outside Link REIT’s headquarters. Photo: Jack Yip, via Facebook.

Tsing Yi Cheung Fat Market tenants’ association president Lee Kam-yuen told Stand News that since the notice from Link REIT about the change in management operations last month, the trust has not officially communicated with tenants: “If they are really willing to talk, then they shouldn’t do these petty moves.”

RTHK reported that around 50 tenants went to the Link REIT’s headquarters in Kwun Tong on Tuesday to protest.

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Hermina Wong

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.