Makansutra founder KF Seetoh was pleasantly surprised when a hawker showed her gratitude to him, for exposing the plight hawkers at Social Enterprise Hawker Centres (SEHCs) face, through a loving hug.

KF Seetoh is the founder of the long-running Makansutra food network which has produced heritage street food guides, international culinary tv shows and operated food markets over its 21-year history.

Seetoh, who has been lauded by international publications like the New York Times and CNN and was recognised as Singapore’s Food Ambassador by former President SR Nathan, dominated headlines last year when he exposed the shocking costs hawkers at SEHCs were forced to contend with.

Calls by Seetoh and other concerned Singaporeans for the Government to step in and protect these hawkers is paying off.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has mandated that from 1 Jan, SEHC’s can only ask hawkers to work five days a week or eight hours a day. Hawkers can work longer hours if they so wish.

Since the regulation went into effect, hawkers at SEHCs are being given the freedom to take more rest days instead of toiling long hours daily, without reprieve.

The SEHC at Our Tampines Hub has given its hawkers the option to work five days a week. More than a third of hawkers have opted to take two full days leave a week. In the past, they could only take one day off if they open 24 hours a day for six days a week.

In the midst of this, Seetoh shared a heartwarming encounter with a hawker who thanked Seetoh for helping lower her costs by $100:

i was shocked when an auntie hawker came up to hug me thanking me for whatever i did (i auntie killer la!!) . The…

Posted by Kf Seetoh on Sunday, 13 January 2019

In case you cannot read the above:

i was shocked when an auntie hawker came up to hug me thanking me for whatever i did (i auntie killer la!!) . The cleaning fees there went down by $100 to $200 bucks.

So dun say nothing can be done. You support what you believe and do whatever you can to see it happen. Not just fold your arms and go KNN about the up-there problems. When you do that, you become part of the problem. The 20 cts tray return has been abolished and hawkers at Jurong now save about $800 on that alone. Now they are given rest days at Tampines (as if operators need to tell them that). And that compulsory $600 monthly “management fee” (the gall of them) at Ci Yuan has been switched to ‘optional”. Cleaning fees at Old Airport is now looking to be based on usage (way less if you use disposables- and i add it should be changed to bio grade ones). Fact is, the authorities are not experts on management matters but they are listening and doing whatevet they can to tame the existing contracts.

There are lots more to be done, like the $300 compulsory monthly “marketing fee” for all 40+ stalls at Pasir Ris (still on folks, despite the ruckus you raised), among others. I mean, have you seen much of the marketing besides the fantastic concert they hold once in a while there. This one baffles me.. just teach them how to get on social media and let them fly la (if they know how to teach in the first place).

Keep at it people, your affordable makan bloodliine heritage is worth preserving. Don;t let your kids grow up eating machine makan or thier future food blogs will be about whether ar2d2 or c3pio cooked it better. They won’t belive you if you said Douglas Ng made his fishball noodles by hand when they grow up.

Btw, if you are looking at getting hawker stalls, there are key ones in town under NEA that can go for under 1k or there abouts, not the average 2k ones (minus ++++ fees) in these new fangled sehc ones. Read up find out more or ask about.

Xingniankwai le folks. support the hawker culture at ..dun just crow, support the hawkers.