Hawker School– Yet Another Stupid Idea From Vivian B

So the noble Vivian B wants more Singaporeans to become hawkers. The Govt now even thinks that it can make hawking a noble profession by setting up hawker “schools“.

According to the Straits Times, “A new generation of Singapore hawkers will get training under a formal program that the government is keen to co-fund. The Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has called for bids to set up a new hawker training center here, The Straits Times understands. If the proposals are feasible, it will shortlist candidates by July.

“In a tender exercise that opened in March and closed earlier this month, WDA highlighted the need to β€œbuild a pipeline of skilled hawkers in anticipation of the 10 new hawker centres to be built within the next decade.”

Of all the dumb ideas that have come out of this PAP Govt, this is by far the dumbest of the lot.

As I’ve mentioned, street hawkers are the very manifestation of Asian culinary creativity for the working classes.

In countries such as Thailand, Vietnam or even Malaysia, Govts have generally left hawkers free to develop and flourish– and the result has been the amazing street food at exceptional prices, renowned the world over.

In Singapore, this Govt not only kicked hawkers off the streets into designated hawker centres, it regulates them, inspects them, licenses them, taxes them, forces them to pay licence fees and other fees, controls who can be hawker stall assistants, and even makes them bid competitively for hawker stall rentals. This despite the fact that hawkers aren’t the most well-off guys around.

The Govt has upgraded hawker centres and created ever higher operating costs for hawkers. Now it even wants to “upgrade” hawkers through formal “education”– as if good street food can come formal schooling!– and wants to encourage more Singaporeans to become hawkers, as if that is such a desirable profession!

That’s the problem when the Govt employs too many scholar-bureaucrats who can’t leave things alone because they constantly need to think of new ways to meet their KPI’s to justify their bloated pay.

Hawkers don’t need and don’t want to go to school! And those who do want to go to culinary school don’t want to be hawkers– they want to be real chefs, they want to work in real F&B establishments! Not stand 10 hours a day in a hot and humid hawker centre!

The real hawkers– the ah cheks and ah sohs– who sell food at $2-$5 just want the Govt off their backs. They are small-time businessmen at best, they work long hours, they (hopefully) have their own secret recipes, and all they want is to be left alone.

Why don’t you get that, Dr B?

If you leave Singaporean hawkers alone, they will innovate and they will surprise you. They will create great food without you making them go to school. After all, Satay Club sprang up all by itself in the 60’s and 70’s without Govt intervention. Instead, when the Govt intervened, everything became fake and sterile– think of Rasa Singapura and the New Satay Club, for instance.

Leave things alone, Dr B. You are a great debater. But you suck as a Minister. You sucked at MCYS, and you suck now.


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19 Responses to Hawker School– Yet Another Stupid Idea From Vivian B

  1. Free speech says:

    The great debater has become the great carrier as he sold his soul to pap. No respect for such person.

  2. Pingback: Daily SG: 1 June 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  3. Daniel Lee says:

    I read the first few paragraphs and ended up having the same conclusion as you. In my view, less regulation, more freedom is the way forward.

  4. kweky says:

    how about apprenticeship programmes then? govt’s role in this case will be to facilitate passing on of “secret recipes” or something like that to interested parties especially from older hawkers with awesome food.

    • Naive says:

      “Secret recipes” are meant to be secret. Most hawkers are not willing to share. Afterall, what benefits will they obtained if they taught you all the tricks? To compete with them?

      • Cheng says:

        Not unless you have the “Principal’ hawker with the ‘secret recipes’ trained to expand its food businesses into a franchise model. That way, he keeps the recipe and the earnings. If you go on that model, it could work. But as with anything, particularly food/cuisine, once you formulate it into a ‘fixed process’, you lose the ‘secret touch’.
        I think V.Bala’s idea must be to turn SG’s hawker food into some sort of McDonald or KFC outlets.

      • Ayin-Ismael Ali says:

        Cheng, don’t need to think. Most people can see what they’re trying to do. But for years, such businesses (food stall & wet market) are meant for the elders. Tho not all, but most of them are just happy with their stall and the way they operate their business.

        I just hope that this is not going to be compulsory. But if it does or even if priority will go to the one attended the school, can you already see the clearer picture of what is going to happen?

        One of it is, these older folks will have to compete with the younger ones or maybe foreigners who are more willing to be ‘graduated’ from the school.

      • Cheng says:

        I don’t disagree with the viewpoint that part of it is to allow new foreigners who settle in to have a go for hawking (pinoy, chinese etc) alongside with local food fares. Given the demographics now, at the rate of 40% are foreigner/PRs, the call for such cuisines must be in high demand. As part of the way to “ease” them with the locales, they are attempting another way to open up the allocation. People could see through their agenda. I am just amused how they go about their ‘propaganda’ in a round-about way.

  5. johndoe57 says:

    The PAP supporters always say that the opposition parties like WP etc have no talent. Honestly, I don’t have any confidence in some of the ministers we see in cabinet today. What is do special about them? What have they done in the last few years? Why are these people still in government and as ministers? Many people outside the government can do a better job including many people in the opposition.

  6. Danny says:

    Altot I would agree that some of the policy made is stupid, the hawker center policy keep the streets of Singapore clean. And by making hawker professional I think it create more job opportunities. In fact, I think that this idea is not bad because the point is that gov will co fund the shops which will regulate and keep price low. So more jobs and maintain price why not? How r u so sure that nothing good will b coming out from this initiative? U sound so one sided

  7. henry says:

    They have an obsession with templates
    Everything, from laying cement to organising a election campaign can be “templated.”

    That is what the WDA and its WSQ system is all about.. they want to deduce everything and anything into process steps. They tried it on a big scale in Suzhou. If they could they would do this for the entire planet.

    Heaven forbid!

  8. Steven says:

    Vivi is only a great debater when he debates in front of mirror.

    Vivi in front of mirror: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the greatest debater of them all ?”
    Vivi to the mirror: “You are !”
    Vivi to himself: “No wonder I deserves millions !”

  9. Sinkee says:

    >>Of all the dumb ideas that have come out of this PAP Govt, this is by far the dumbest of the lot.

    Even beating the one about changing hospital ward class “C” [die] to another alphabet?

  10. Jack Meoff says:

    this is going down the same road as wet markets and provision shops. hawker centres will end up operating under Sheng Siong, NTUC, S11 and Kopitiam. all the earnings will just go to the big organisations. just another way to make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer.

  11. Ace says:

    Ultimately the price of food in hawker centre will go up but the beneficiary will not be the hawker but some consultant who trains them. When Prof Lim Chong Yah ask to raise wages, they give so many excuses. When street food were converted to hawker centres, prices went up due to rent paid to the gahmen. Now this is another of their tricks.

    All the scholars are ask to think how to earn more money for the gahmen and if it has to be at the expense of the people, so be it. It’s just collateral damage!

  12. Pingback: Hawkers – culture killing culture – Signs of Struggle

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