Monday, 15 April 2019

Forum: Real hawkers should be missed

I feel compelled to respond to Ms Priscilla Poh Beng Hoon's sentiments regarding the hawker food and practices of yesteryear (Nothing to miss of yesteryears' hawker food, which was unhygienically prepared, April 5).

I still vividly remember my first memory of being taken by my mother to a street stall in Chinatown.

We sat on rickety stools and the dishes were washed in buckets of water that ran into the open drain.

Their practices might have looked unhygienic.

Yet I do not remember ever suffering any gastroenteritis symptoms after eating.

Compare that with the recent mass food poisoning incidents perpetrated by ostensibly hygienic catering companies.

Like any small business owners, these hawkers knew more than anyone else that it was critical their customers did not come down with food poisoning.

My family also used to buy nasi lemak and goreng pisang from neighbourhood vendors - primary school-aged children who carried heavy baskets of food up and down stairs and along corridors.

I would later realise that we were, in fact, supporting our neighbours by buying their food, which could have meant the difference between those children going to school with ill-fitting shoes, uniforms and textbooks, or not.

The people now serving food at the foodcourts are not hawkers.

They are workers being paid the lowest wages, who often do not take much pride in what they cook or how they serve.

Real hawkers and their families who run their own businesses are an endangered species in Singapore.

Contrary to what Ms Poh thinks, I miss those old-fashioned hawkers very much.

Lee Siew Peng (Dr)


You may want to read Yesteryear's hawker fare as good as today's

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