Forum: China's move to encourage street vendors - a model for us?

Bloomberg Opinion columnist Adam Minter's prediction that the return of street vendors in China, presently encouraged by the Chinese authorities, won't save the country's economy is premature (Street vendors won't save China's economy, June 20).

In times of a catastrophic crisis, such as the present pandemic, individual enterprise may be the only hope of survival left for some.

However, to thrive as a viable sector, the vendors have to reinvent themselves as ethical traders. Otherwise, the need for official regulation is inevitable.

Unfortunately, official regulation tends to stifle the freewheeling spirit that spawns such enterprises.

The ebb and flow of street vendors has weathered this pattern through the centuries.

Yes, street vendors may not save a national economy. But they can certainly sustain the jobless from starving in times of a pandemic or an economic downturn.

I believe the authorities in China recognise this salient reality, and encouraging the return of street vendors may be wiser than any outsider can discern.

In Singapore, we have our pasar malam. Perhaps town councils may want to reconsider how they manage the present system to bring back the pasar malam sentiment and enterprise of yesteryear.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

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