KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — Caretaker prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob promised to grant the requests hawkers and small traders made to the government if they were to help him retain his position in the 15th general election (GE15).
Identifying himself as a former petty trader, Ismail recounted his adolescence when he sold citruses and fish at the Temerloh market to make ends meet.
“I understand because I used to be a hawker, my life is the same as a hawker.
“What the hawker thinks, I have been through it before; that’s why every request made by the hawkers, I must approve,” he told attendees at a festival for hawkers, small traders and micro entrepreneurs at Dataran Merdeka here today.
However, Ismail Sabri said he needed the group’s help first by voting for him and his party in the 15th general election.
“I asked you that if I need help in the future, please help me.
“Hawkers should use their right on November 19 to (vote) the party that continues to help and defend the plight of traders in this country,” he said to cheers and applause from thousands in attendance.
Ismail also said that in 2009, when he was the minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, he had brought the hawkers association under his ministry
Dubbing himself the “father of the hawkers association”, he then announced he would be the patron of the Federation of Hawkers’ and Petty Traders’ Association Malaysia and pledged to champion their rights.
When met by the press later, the Umno vice-president declined to say if he was making an election promise or campaigning for the general election in his speech.
Instead, he said he would leave the message to individual interpretation.
“Yeah, you help me, I help you, OK la. It’s up to them on how they want to interpret the meaning.
“You can have your own opinion and the traders can have their own opinion. Let’s leave it to them,” he told the media on the sidelines after the event.
On October 10, the caretaker PM dissolved Parliament despite pleas for him not to trigger GE15 this year due to the high risk of floods from the north-east monsoon period.
Earlier today, the Election Commission announced November 19 as polling day for GE15.