NTU students frustrated with supermarket tender issue

Nanyang Technological University has recently awarded new tenders to 7-11 and Cheers, a subsidiary of NTUC Fairprice, which would see these 2 brands of convenience stores replacing the old mini supermarkets that sell items like basic food stuff that satisfy the needs of the staff and students at NTU.

This comes after the tender was raised, apparently to a price that 7-11 and Cheers could afford but not the old operator(s). A total of 4 stores within NTU would see a replacement of management by these 2 operators, each getting 2 of the 4 slots.

This has led many students to lament at the increased prices at these stores. The concerned students also brought to question the transparency of the tender process. Many other questions were also raised and a boycott is also scheduled to be held on September 28, 2012.

Under particular scrutiny is the student union of the school, NTUSU, that has been accused of not caring enough for the welfare of the students as a whole. The NTUSU has since communicated with the school’s higher management, coming up with a host of questions to be answered by the school.

According to the facebook group, Bring Back Nanyang Supermarket, NTU’s main news journal, The Nanyang Chronicle, a publication by the school’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, had earlier come up with an article cheering on the new operators. Headlined “Cheers! It’s a store and more”, the article tried to give the impression that the “competition between the new vendors” would lower prices. “In the very first place, awarding the tenant to 7-11 just shows how ODFM failed to understand the situation – 7-11 is never competitive in prices” wrote the facebook page apparently set up by NTU undergraduates. The page also revealed several examples of higher prices in the new stores compared to the old Nanyang Supermarket, which conflicted with what the article had suggested. “Obviously, the reporter has to do more research,” the page said.

This is in such stark resemblance to the way our PAP government does things, and how it works hand in hand with the mainstream media to churn out misleading information to hoodwink the public.

True to form, the Today newspaper came up with this hogwash to the incident, reducing the major blunder to a mere “technical glitch at new NTU 7-Eleven” in their report, which was quite heavily lambasted by the aggrieved students.

When Today shared the story on their facebook page, emphasis was given to the fact that students had created a facebook page to protest against the price increases, instead of the problem itself, and while comments in the thread were mostly sensible, there were some that showed a lack of understanding of the situation, like this one: “High price set up FB page to protest.. Is this what we can expect from the younger generations these days?” In response, another reader summed it up quite roundly: “You people do not even know what’s the reason behind all these protests, and now you give baseless comments about your children being a strawberry generation? The nanyang mart before the taking over of 7-11 sold goods at much lower prices. So students are fed up with the inability of the student union to protect the interests of the students. Thats all.”

Lianhe Zaobao, another member of the MSM, had this article which although more objective than Today’s, also chose to emphasize the students’ planned route of action, that is a boycott, instead of the problem itself.

The most recent update is that NTUSU has got the confirmation from 7-11 that they will operate a supermarket instead of a convenience store at NTU and keep prices at the same level as their supermarkets in NUS and Republic Polytechnic, and where prices for items are found to be above those of such in external supermarkets like NTUC Fairprice, there would be a “review”. Although seemingly “magnanimous” a move, brought about by a seemingly swift and concrete response from NTUSU, one sharp comment on the post read: “why does ntusu sound like the gahmen?”

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