Swallowing Up & Spitting Out

I don’t post much political stuff on this blog, but recent moves by the government aimed at helping our hawkers (albeit with a self-centred perspective) are really accelerating the demise of our hawker culture – an inevitable outcome in my opinion as long as our hawkers come under the purview of Big Brother and his philosophy of squeezing people down the line. The free enterprising spirit is dealt another blow by the takeover of Kopitiam by NTUC. The business has become even more centralised with little room left for our hawkers to maneuver. Never has it been more critical for us to pick up some culinary skills ourselves and stop our food heritage from dying with the hawkers.

But seriously, I doubt any attempt to take control out of Big Brother’s hands or encourage our young to go into F&B will yield positive results. The problem is actually multi-factorial and extremely challenging, especially if operating costs continue to rise and worst of all, people don’t mind having the kind of adulterated local dishes and “integrated” food courts (Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Mala hotpot etc) that we have now. Rescuing our food heritage through our young hawkers (some of whom sold their brands the moment they became famous) is to me, a lost cause. The great white shark’s jaws are right at your feet. There is no escape. Seetoh et al need to ask, do the people really mind? If at least 70% of them don’t, then we might as well channel our energies towards acquiring those skills ourselves.

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