Hawkers: ST not worth the paper its printed on?


Very long article on the problem of ‘social enterprise hawker centres’ – but not a single word on the increase in costs? 

I refer to the article “Hawker debate: Figuring out a way forward” (Sunday Times, Nov 4).

It states that “But such low rents also mean that some hawkers can operate for just a few hours a day, or not at all. Some centres have stalls that close in the evening, with some hawkers citing a shortage of workers. The result is that patrons have fewer options for food after work, which reflects the balance of interests that need to be served by such social amenities.

As a labour shortage and tighter foreign labour quotas hit in the last decade, hawkers began complaining about a lack of stall helpers and dishwashers. Stacks of unwashed plates became a sight that was not uncommon at some centres.”

Such a long article on a historical and current assessment of hawker centres and their social enterprises – but not a single word on what is arguably the biggest problem now and from a historical perspective too – the increased costs charged to the hawkers.

Looking at the total fees of $2,509 now (total $4,117 – rental $1,608)– does it mean that the percentage increase from the average fees in 2012/2013, is about 2.5 times ($2,509 now divided by $1,000 in 2012/2013), before the Budget debate in 2012′s announcement that public cleaning will be under the new Department of Cleanliness (DPC) under the NEA?

So, how can the NEA now say that “It is still at its early stage, and we should give it time to evolve”, when this has arguably, been going on since 2012 (when the NEA started its DPC), at the expense of hawkers (and passed on to consumers)? 

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.