Jun 05, 2013

    Hawker centres can help preserve street-food culture

    HAWKER centres have a role to play in preserving Singapore's street-food heritage, on top of providing cheap and affordable food, said the National Environment Agency's (NEA's) Hawker Centres Division director, Mr Richard Tan.

    They offer employment and communal spaces for people to gather and eat too, he said yesterday.

    He was speaking at a dialogue at the World Street Food Congress held at the F1 Pit Building.

    He said that the preservation of the hawker heritage will "allow itinerant hawkers to carry on their trade, and to find a means to preserve their tradition".

    Mr Tan stressed that there are enough avenues for young people here to take up the hawker trade. "It's a matter of searching for old masters to help them," he said.

    He noted that NEA removed reserved rentals for hawker stalls last year, and replaced it with a tender system. "We actually have people who have managed to (successfully) bid for a stall at $20 a month," he said.

    But there is a need to balance evolving tastes and to preserve Singapore's traditional hawker fare.

    He said that young people in Singapore now look for more than traditional hawker fare - a result of being widely-travelled.

    "There are more people coming to Singapore as well. They bring with them different taste buds and expectations," he said.

    The two-day dialogue event was attended by about 760 people and saw 17 speakers talk local and overseas street-food culture.