Suu Kyi feasts on local delights at Ghim Moh market

Ms Suu Kyi having breakfast yesterday with (from left) Singapore Ambassador to Myanmar Robert Chua, Dr Balakrishnan, Myanmar Union Minister for Commerce Than Myint, Myanmar Minister of State for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin and National Environment Age
Ms Suu Kyi having breakfast yesterday with (from left) Singapore Ambassador to Myanmar Robert Chua, Dr Balakrishnan, Myanmar Union Minister for Commerce Than Myint, Myanmar Minister of State for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin and National Environment Agency chief Ronnie Tay.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

She wraps up S'pore visit with hawker centre tour, plans similar amenities in Myanmar

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi wrapped up her visit to Singapore yesterday with breakfast at a hawker centre - a facility she hopes to set up in her own country.

She was hosted by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan to a breakfast of chwee kway and putu mayam at Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre. Also on the menu were fried carrot cake, laksa, tau huay, coffee and teh tarik.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was on a three-day visit here, was greeted by dozens of people - the numbers swelled later to at least a hundred. Most were curious onlookers and hawkers at the food centre.

She toured the wet-market area and stalls selling goods such as household provisions and clothes, and was briefed by Dr Balakrishnan and officials on the history of hawker centres in Singapore.

Myanmar wants to upgrade its wet markets and build a hawker centre in Yangon, where regulations governing street vendors have been tightened. Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein toured Tiong Bahru Food Centre and Ci Yuan Hawker Centre in Hougang, when he visited in July.

 

The chosen venue for yesterday's tour was kept under wraps, and hawkers were told only a day or two in advance that "a VVIP was coming", said Madam Letchmi Veerapan, 55, who owns the Heavens stall that served putu mayam to Ms Suu Kyi .

She said she got up at 4am to prepare the food, adding that she had watched The Lady, the 2011 biographical film about Ms Suu Kyi: "I'm a fan. I've seen the movie about her, and now, I've seen her in real life."

Some rushed to the hawker centre when they found out about Ms Suu Kyi's visit.

Several groups of women from Myanmar, recognisable by the distinctive yellowish paste made from ground tree bark they applied on their faces as a lotion, stood around waiting to catch a glimpse of her.

In between chatting, some showed off the photographs they had snapped of her on their mobile phones.

A 22-year-old technical specialist, who wanted to be known only as Ms Phyu, waved goodbye to Ms Suu Kyi as she left and wished her a long life in Burmese. "I managed to shake her hand twice," Ms Phyu said with a laugh, adding that she and her friends had raced to the market in a taxi to see Ms Suu Kyi.

Ms Lulu Aung, a domestic helper who lives at the block next to the market, was told by her employer that Ms Suu Kyi was right on their doorstep.

She told The Straits Times: "My boss said 'Go, go, go', so I ran down and came here. I always see her on television - this was my first time seeing her in person."

She added: "I will post my photos on Facebook for my friends to see."

The 27-year-old, who has worked here for five years, said having hawker centres in Myanmar would be convenient, as many stalls could be brought together under one roof.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline 'Suu Kyi feasts on local delights at Ghim Moh market'. Print Edition | Subscribe