Must We Make Hawker Food Pricier In Order To Save Hawkers In Singapore?

Kyle Malinda-White
Hawker Food In Singapore - Popspoken

The Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre has been in renovation since February and as it reaches the end of its upgrading period in May, the Fullerton Bay Hotel has offered a rather… “atas” way to feast on hawker food delights: at a price.

The Clifford Pier buffet at Fullerton Bay Hotel has brought together eight hawkers from the Tiong Bahru market to whip up a storm to those who cannot wait any further for their fix of nosh from their favourite hawkers.

From April 30 to May 14, you can fork our $38 for lunch or $58 for dinner and get a sampling of teochew kueh from HarriAns, fishball and minced pork noodles from Kim Fa and Tiong Bahru Jian Bo Shui Kueh, among others.

Hawker Food In Singapore - Popspoken

Jian Bo Shui Kueh

Is this price justified for hawker dishes that go for about $5 a pop and have made Singapore’s food cheap and affordable?

Local hawkers should be regarded as artisans and have their hawker food valued a little bit higher than current prices, argues Rice Media’s Tang Weng En.

Undergraduates Popspoken spoke to agreed that the hawker trade risks dying a slow death if prices continue to be as cheap in the face of mounting costs.

“If it remains this cheap for the long run, we’re just gonna see it become crap food cooked by foreign labour because no local wants to become a hawker,” said undergraduate Mr Joshua Tan, 25 to Popspoken.

Ms Shahidah Hamsah’s father operates a briyani stall in the Tekka Market’s food centre and raised his prices by 50 cents to $6.50 for a plate of briyani due to the increasing costs of meat.

“My dad has to follow suit,” said the 21-year-old undergraduate. “Most customers don’t mind but a few here and there would make noise.”

The price increase is taken in stride, said Ms Shahidah, as she observed some new customers coming to the outlet wondering why the briyani is priced slightly more than the rest of the stalls in the market.

Although there remains something to be said about shelling out $60 for hawker food or reimagining Singapore cuisine as fine dining fare, with local food being offered at higher prices such as at the recent Artbox Singapore flea market, the new normal of higher food prices for local Singapore delights may be something Singaporeans have to get used to, to keep businesses surviving.

“It’s either we raise hawker food prices and hope the scene doesn’t die with the current generation or leave it as it is and it’ll definitely die at some point,” said Mr Tan.

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Header image: The Fullerton Bay Hotel

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