SINGAPORE: Food guru KF Seetoh had some advice for politicians who have gone to ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre at Bukit Merah to help support the hawkers there.

“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.

Prominent figures could also arrange for the “national media to blitz the hawker cte’s offerings, like that rare Hokkien cze cha stall in Singapore,” and then “go hold your press conference and get claps for it,” he added.

For Mr Seetoh, going to a hawker centre is not enough because, as he wrote, “Telling us what you ate there is nice but ermm…”

Mr Seetoh posted a screenshot from a Mothership piece titled ‘Grace Fu, Amy Khor & Baey Yam Keng visit ABC Brickworks to support hawkers after reports of slow business,’ published on Saturday (Jan 13).

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One photo showed the three politicians dining at the food centre, which Ms Fu, the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, had posted on Facebook earlier that day.

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“Read in the news that business has been slow for hawkers at the ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre. So, together with Amy Khor, Baey Yam Keng 马炎庆, and some colleagues from Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) and National Environment Agency (NEA), we headed there for our lunch and kopi,” Ms Grace Fu wrote.

But for Mr Seetoh, who has long championed Singapore’s hawkers, there appear to be better ways of helping and supporting them at a time when their businesses are affected.

Business has slowed down considerably—with some saying as much as 50 per cent—since tuberculosis screenings were announced earlier this month.

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On Sunday (Jan 14), Health Minister Ong Ye Kung also posted photos of himself on Facebook having a meal at the food centre.

He wrote that he had claypot rice, oyster omelette, and chendol upon the recommendation of Mr Eric Chua, the MP for the ward.

But because there were very few patrons that day, it made him sad, he added.

“Hawkers told me that many patrons were hesitant to come, because they were worried about catching Tuberculosis (TB).”

Mr Ong assured that TB is caught from close contact over days and weeks, not by sharing utensils or having occasional meals at a hawker centre. /TISG