Hari Raya Bazaar: $2.25m rental, $8.3m surplus?


Is the $2.25 million rental for the Hari Raya Bazaar diminishing the spirit and cultural heritage of Hari Raya?

I refer to the article “Geylang Serai CCC and PA earn a “cool” $2.25 million for organizing Hari Raya Bazaar” (theonlinecitizen, Jun 3).

It states that “The cost of renting a 2.7m by 2.7m stall now stands at $20,000, up 100% from $10,000 four years ago.

Stallholders are blaming the escalating rents on the high bids placed by companies to win tender to be the master operators of the bazaar.

Operators are chosen via 2 tenders called by a People’s Association (PA) grassroots working committee, under the Geylang Serai Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) for the annual bazaar.

Company called BXW won this year’s tender at Geylang Serai Bazaar

This year, BXW Pte Ltd, won both tenders with bids worth a combined $2.25 million.

MP Maliki Osman who is a Minister of State as well as the Mayor of South East District told the media that he was aware of ground concerns and said he was looking at “managing the issue”. But stallholders complained that rentals have been increasing non-stop every year, regardless of the PAP MPs trying to “manage” the issue.

Geylang Serai CCC Chairman Eric Wong, however, thinks there is no need to impose a cap. He defended his stand by arguing that the stalls are able to cover the cost of rentals.

He also said that proximity to facilities such as the Haig Road Market and Food Centre would create a “spillover effect” for the stallholders at the bazaar. And the fact that many stallholders return back year after year is a testimony that businesses at the bazaar are viable notwithstanding the high rentals, he implied.

So, in other words, Geylang Serai CCC Chairman Eric Wong thinks the current high rentals imposed at the bazaar due to the high bids put up by the master operator BXW is not a problem.”

In this connection, according to the annual report of the Marine Parade Town Council – its surplus for the year 2017 was $3.6 million and the accumulated surplus was $8.3 million – the sinking fund was $72.1 million – and the service & conservancy fees have just been increased from 1 June 2018.

So, is there really a need to make so much money from the bazaar?

Viability of businesses at Geylang Serai

“Last year, it was reported that the rental for a stall at the bazaar was found to cost up to $17,000.

A writer at goodyfeed.com did a quick calculation to find out how many Ramly burgers a stallholder needed to sell in order to cover his rental.

The writer wrote:

“The rental of the stall, assuming it’s $17,000, will cost the owner approximately $600 a day. Because the stall needs manpower, we’re going to assume there are two people working there, getting paid at $60 a day per person. That adds up to an operating cost of $720 per day. And we’re not including the cost of ingredients and other overheads in the equation.

So how many Ramly burgers must you sell to break even? The answer is a whopping 288 burgers (the writer assumed $2.50 per burger). That’s before you start to earn from your business. Imagine that.””

As to “Lee Jerry wrote, “Rental kills business here in SG. It’s all about money now nothing to do with our culture or values of our different religion. Our GOV see to it that they make money from every opportunity they get”” – isn’t there a better way to allocate the stalls instead of a tender to the highest bidder?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.