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 “build 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.