Singaporean "Gary Ho" wrote a viral post about the problems our hawkers are facing after NTUC Foodfare took over. He talked to some hawkers and felt that they were unfairly treated. Some of them were told to sign legal documents without any translations. They were made to buy compulsory insurance of more than $100 per annum and now have to pay an increased cleaning cost of more than $500. On top of that, they have to stay open for "super long hours".
Hawkers may have to report their movements to the contractor, like when they take leave or close their stalls. If not, they allegedly face punishments.
"Hawkers are independent operators. Since when are they now working for NTUC and since when has NTUC become their boss??? Also, how does forcing elderly hawkers into working long hours make things any better?
Seriously, you talk about hawker centres being important, (AND THEY ARE!) but you are doing everything possible to make hawkers lives more difficult. Soon there will be no more hawkers left and all the delicious cheap food will go with them."
MP Lim Biow Chuan has responded by saying that hawkers do not have to open for long hours as some of them are already closed by 7pm.
"I don't believe in making hawkers work super long hours. They have to decide for themselves how hard they wish to work and what is important to them. My parents were hawkers and I know how hard they work...
I also spoke to 4 stall operators earlier in the evening and they all said that there was no condition imposed by Foodfare that they must stay open for super long hours. Nor was there any rule that they need to report their movement or face punishment!! What punishment, they asked?? What Foodfare wanted to do was to manage the food centre such that it will not become a empty food centre in the evening. Just visit some of the other empty food centres at night and you will understand their concerns."
Did MP Lim Biow Chuan fully address the concerns? Why can't a hawker centre be left empty at night? Hasn't that been the case for many food centres since last time? Or is this just another way they want to earn money?
To think that someone wanted our hawker culture to be in the UNESCO heritage list. Fat hope, Singapore. Just look at where we are now!