Singapore's very own foodie, Makansutra's Kf Seetoh, wrote an open letter to Senior Minister of State Amy Khor in a bid to preserve the hawker culture in Singapore. For a start, hawkers should not be charged exorbitant fees under the new Social Enterprise Hawker Centre scheme. They should not have to pay for additional services that are not necessary.
For example, hawkers now have to pay 20 cents every time people return their trays. This "amounts to anything from $400 to $800 a month just on tray returns alone (which is over and above the cleaning and maintenance fees)".
The situation is so bad that there is a hawker who cannot cope with high rental fees even though he was earning $4000 a month. Worse still, the poor uncle wanted out but had to pay a penalty every month until a new tenant is found.
How is this called social enterprise? The National Environment Agency (NEA) should just take back control of public hawker centres as private companies will only use them as money-making machines.
"These revenue hungry private operators can rightly do their commercial rental and operation model, on a mutually agreed buyer-seller agreements in the privately owned coffeeshops, food halls and markets, canteens, food courts etc.. but please keep them away from our public hawker centres. We have to preserve low operation cost so hawkers can comfortably offer cheaper meals for poorer customers in our midst who depend on it, preserve this food heritage and encourage a new breed of hawker to rise to the fore and address continuity and sustainability".
The next time our beloved Prime Minister teach us to save money by buying $3 meals, they should take the time to reflect if things really come cheap in Singapore.