SINGAPORE: A debate ensued online after a woman told her story of being charged an additional fifty cents for an extra bowl at a hawker stall for her young daughter.

While some said that the hawker has the right to charge as he sees fit, others expressed shock or made the usual calls for boycotting the stall for charging the extra amount.

On May 31 (Friday), the story of Ms Josephine was published on the crowdsourced news site STOMP, where she told of having gone to the West Coast Market Square stall at Block 726 Clementi West Street 2 at around noon on May 25.

She wrote that she ordered hor fun with additional kway teow, for which she was charged S$5. Ms Josephine then asked for a small bowl for her two-year-old daughter, for which the hawker charged another S$0.50.

“I was shocked that a bowl has a $0.50 charge. This is the very first time I have encountered a hawker or market stall needing to charge money for just a small bowl. Where got such thing? It’s really ridiculous,” she wrote.

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She added that she changed her mind and told the hawker that she didn’t need it.

However, according to Ms Josephine, “The uncle was very rude and snatched back the bowl from me.”

And while netizens expressed unhappiness over the additional charge for the bowl, some pointed out that hawkers also have additional expenses.

“This hawker center is required for the hawkers to pay for dishwashing services. It is a must. Additional washing of cutlery and bowls are payable by the hawker to the cleaning vendor assigned to this hawker centre,” wrote one.

And when another commenter answered him by saying, “It’s just one bowl,” the netizen added:

“It is the business decision on how they wanna do their business. Don’t need huan lo until get all stressed up in life, want to eat, pay and eat. Don’t want, walk away.”

He also appealed to others to respect the decisions of hawkers, saying there’s no need for them to be bashed online.

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Food guru KF Seetoh, a longtime champion of the hawker industry, has made the same appeal on the Makansutra site. “Please stop it. Stop harassing and bullying the hawkers,” he wrote on May 7.

He outlined the various fees hawkers need to pay, such as the bids for their stall, rent, and the washing and clearing of utensils and crockery.

“In short, hawkers don’t just pay rent and cleaning fees. The rents, S&CC fees, table cleaning fees, dishwashing, plates returned to hawker cost, and the breathless laundry list of fines can come up to over $4,000 a month,” Mr Seetoh added.


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