Lately, founder of Makansutra KF Seetoh has been under the spotlight regarding the issue of hawker centres. In an exclusive with TISG, Seetoh talks about the hawker culture he knows so well.
TISG: What are your thoughts on the effectiveness and feasibility of the Government initiative of capping hawker food prices at $3 for the poor?
Seetoh: The $3-or-less meal had been organically and naturally offered by hawkers. They know their game and numbers and some do so with heart. However, there are some dishes that just cannot be sold effectively at that price, like seafood and western chops. Ultimately it should be left to the hawkers to set their own prices to stay competitive and real.
TISG: What do you think can be done about the situation where the hawker food is cheap but the quality is compromised?
Seetoh: Again, leave it to them. Some hawkers want to cater to better-heeled customers and some may give free or heavily discounted meals to the poorer ones. Just leave it to them.
TISG: With regards to the entire issue, why do you feel the need to step in?
Seetoh: I do so because it will affect this social culture that Singaporeans depend on. It will also affect many businesses and jobs. Think suppliers, tourism, trade and entry-level entrepreneurism. We must also protect the true cheaper meal for the disadvantaged and poor. And, it is just those 6000 public owned hawker centres I am talking about, not the 24000 private owned ones operating on market forces and value.
TISG: Anything you’d like to say in response to those who have brought up the food stalls you own and Gluttons Bay and say that you’re contradicting yourself by fighting for the hawkers?
Seetoh: As they have admitted, they used flawed logic. If it were logical, gluttons bay prices are minions compared to many others in the area. But I also don’t respond to personal attacks and the misguided.
TISG: What do you think the hawkers should do? Where do they go? Petition? Write in to the MPs?
Seetoh: they should write in to SMS Amy Khor since she personally is looking out for their interest in Parliament.