Recently, there’re criticism against grooming the next generation of hawkers.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, food production and security is one of the most basic and important essentials that our country should not only preserve but we should also continue to enhance it because it contributes to our well being as well as quality of life.
Who’s to say that from the hawker industry, Singapore could not produce the next generation of ‘McDonald’ and ‘KFC’?
Who’s to say that hawkers cannot turn the craft of cooking into a fine art that will attract attention from all over the world?
Who’s to say that Singapore cannot produce a new genre of Michelin-starred F&B outlets?
Who’s to say our hawkers cannot find meaning, purpose, passion and fulfillment in their trade? And at the same time earn higher than a decent level of living?
Who’s to say that there won’t be enough parents who are proud of their children for pioneering new and unchartered territories in the food industry?
Who’s to say that our educational program to train hawkers cannot draw students from all over the world and the program cannot be fine tuned and be exported to help other countries improve their food culture and industry?
Who’s to say that our hawker industry cannot evolve and be supported by high tech systems and be automated to eventually become a high value-added and highly profitable industry that can support high-paying jobs? (Not too long ago, many skeptics also don’t thinking helping others share messages and videos free of charge, rent rooms and small co-working spaces, hail taxis, and own chairs can ever be a big business?)
Who’s to say that our hawker culture, including hawkers cannot become another major tourist attraction? Contribute to our economy? And help Singapore to be a livable and lovable place?
Many of the critics against training the next generation of hawkers are the usual motley bunch that scream “elitism” and advocate against social discrimination but who obviously don’t think it’s hypocritical to look down on hawkers or think lowly of hawkers.
By Grace Yeo