After a petition from the hawkers at Jurong West Hawker Centre to the National Environment Agency (NEA) for the operator to remove the fee of 20 cents for each returned tray, Makansutra’s KF Seetoh took to Facebook to address the issue.
In a post over the weekend, Seetoh asked the Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, also known as Kee Chiu, if he too was in support of hawkers paying a fee for customers to return their trays.
One of the Jurong West hawkers who signed the petition told the media that they had to pay up to S$900 a month for tray charges, on top of the monthly S$2,140 rent and overhead costs. They also added that customers do not pay anything to take a tray, but receive 20 cents when they return one.
In his Facebook post, Seetoh also quoted someone known as ‘Roberto Antonio’, who allegedly said, “If hawkers cannot accept to pay for the tray return, then give up the stall to others waiting for it. There are people who want to have a stall and can accept paying for tray return”.
“Tray return is to help hawkers so that tables are ready for the next customer… Singapore is a fair country. If Singaporeans do not want to work or accept it, foreigners can take it. So sometimes, we cannot blame foreigners taking over our jobs”, Seetoh quoted.
In an open letter to Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor earlier this month, Seetoh asked her to preserve Singapore’s public hawker centres, and said that hawker centres should not be compared to private food courts, but that Social Enterprise Hawker Centres (SEHCs) should be compared to the other established NEA-run public hawkers centres instead.
Netizens completely agreed with Seetoh on how outrageous it was to pay patrons to return their trays.
Many were also curious as to who Roberto Antonio was.