SINGAPORE: The country’s food guru, Mr KF Seetoh, has observed that the mood this year for the Lunar New Year Holidays is not a very festive one.

“Observing, walking about with empirical is overly and abundantly clear, there’s a depressed mood this CNY season,” wrote Mr Seetoh, adding that people seem not to be “cheering and spending as usual.”

He weighed in on the state of the economy and current manpower issues besetting the Food and Beverage Industry in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Feb 7), a few days before Chinese New Year festivities are set to begin.

Businesses, moreover, “are cowed under with operation cost issues,” he added and called the lack of manpower “to hold the fort” a “dire” situation.

He also warned the public to manage their expectations for upcoming festive meals.

“What with the sad state of the world now I will tell you not to expect too much by way of service (and) quality for your upcoming $2000 reunion banquet.”

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The Makansutra founder encouraged everyone to “Just be glad your family is together. Or better still, cook at home, get your extended family and very close friends to ‘gotong royong’, bond and cook together (and) feast at home… like how it is supposed to be.”

Gotong royong, which literally means “mutual assistance,” is a Malay term for coming together toward a shared purpose or goal.

This, Mr Seetoh added, would cause families to “save a ton.”

Going back to manpower issues, he warned that the situation could worsen if problems are ignored. He said it could end up being “the silent stealth missile that will sink this shiny, fragile  economic boat we are all floating on.”

Nevertheless, he extended his greetings to everyone, particularly those who celebrate the Lunar New Year: “Good health, family togetherness, great fortune and success… Kongxifacai!!”

Mr Seetoh, one of the luminaries in Singapore’s F & B industry, has been a longtime and outspoken champion of the country’s hawker culture, standing up for hawkers and ceaselessly calling for help to be extended toward them to ensure their success and longevity.

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In a Facebook post last month, he had some advice for politicians who have gone to ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre at Bukit Merah to help support the hawkers there in the wake of reduced footfall after it was announced that tuberculosis screenings would be conducted in the area.

“Please don’t go there, eat & generate media for your outing. If you are serious about helping the hawkers, reduce their rents for the troubled period and work with delivery companies to offer discounts,” Mr Seetoh appealed to the politicians. /TISG

Read related: KF Seetoh to politicians: Help hawkers by reducing their rents and working with delivery companies to offer discounts