In S’pore, staff on leave, traders close as Malaysian chicken ban takes toll

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PETALING JAYA: Several chicken suppliers in Singapore are halting production and making staff go on leave while wet market traders plan to close temporarily, just a week after Malaysia’s ban on chicken exports came into effect.

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Hup Heng Poultry Industries told Singaporean portal Today Online the company had asked workers to clear their leave since it was halting production, though he did not state if this was paid or unpaid leave.

However, Hup Heng’s director, Ma Chin Chew, said the company that imports and sells frozen and fresh chicken did not have any plans to lay off staff for the time being.

“We don’t know how long the ban will last. If it’s just a month, we don’t want to make big changes to our manpower,” he said.

Chicken importer Kee Song Food had already put staff on leave, though its business development head, James Sim, said this was a “chance for workers to recharge” after working extra shifts in the lead-up to the ban.

Kee Song had increased production by up to 40% after Malaysia first announced the ban, so that the company could stockpile about 10 days’ worth of chicken.

Sim said the ban will leave the firm with a 95% cut in revenue.

A wet market trader at Taman Jurong who wanted to only be known as Chua said he will be taking a break while waiting for supply to resume, as there was no point in selling frozen chicken.

“Some customers called to ask if I have any (fresh) chicken or if I’m open today, but all I can tell them is there’s nothing to sell,” he said, adding that he predicted Malaysia would resume exports in a month.

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Should the ban be extended, Chua simply said he would then “figure out what to do next”.

Another trader, known only as Wee, said he was closed yesterday as he could not secure any chicken, though he hoped to reopen once he was supplied frozen chicken to sell.

He said he now worked “day-by-day” selling any frozen chicken from Brazil that he could secure, adding that when he opened, he would close two hours earlier since there was little to be sold.

“But I can’t afford to close entirely. We need the money to pay for the stall, and our customers also need chicken to eat.”

However, the operators of two chicken rice stalls said operations were going on as usual for now as they did not have to switch to frozen chicken just yet.

Nam Kee owner Lincoln Chew said they were still getting “fresh, frozen” chicken, where fresh chicken is frozen for only a couple of days.

Roland Neo, owner of Chye Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice, said their supplier had a sufficient supply of chickens to last for up to two weeks. “Everything is still okay. We’ve managed to get the chickens we need to operate.” – FMT


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