Forum: Hawker centres can help build social cohesion

Lunchtime crowd at the Maxwell Food Centre.
Lunchtime crowd at the Maxwell Food Centre.PHOTO: ST FILE

To build a cohesive society we ought to start from the ground up, looking at how those in a diverse society mingle in daily activities, such as at eateries or hawker centres (Building a cohesive society right down to our coffee shops, Oct 3).

Food is a common denominator in a multicultural society, but there are differences in preparation, ingredients and guidelines, and restrictions in diet. For example, some people are vegetarians for religious reasons, some do not consume beef and others, pork.

Public eateries need to cater to all segments of society. The more inclusive we are, the more cohesive the society will be, and hence, a stronger nation.

However, most eateries seem to cater to the segment that makes up the majority of the population.

Something like this could develop into a divisive issue easily exploited by irresponsible elements who choose to play up how the minority groups are being marginalised.

Nowadays, it has become easy to play with people's sentiments, using race, religion or culture as a tool to spread provocative rumours.

Therefore, we need to cover all loopholes that may lead to undesirable exploitation.

I hope the concerned authorities will look into how to make hawker centres a food haven for all segments of society.

Syed Alwi Altahir

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2019, with the headline 'Hawker centres can help build social cohesion'. Subscribe