Hawker centres - Singapore's shining jewel

Hawker centres demonstrate the nation's commitment to a public space that is shared and celebrated by all.
Hawker centres demonstrate the nation's commitment to a public space that is shared and celebrated by all. ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

Singapore's bid to put its hawker culture on the world map is timely against the backdrop of the clash of cultures around the world (Singapore submits Unesco bid to recognise hawker culture, March 29).

Singapore's hawker centres represent all that makes us Singaporeans, and citizens celebrate the heritage, tastes and cleanliness of their hawker food. They are among the few public places in the world where people of all religions and races can eat together regardless of dietary restrictions and beliefs.

Hawker centres demonstrate the nation's commitment to a public space that is shared and celebrated by all. They are a miracle in a world of increasing fundamentalism and exclusivity which have erupted into many violent and sad incidents.

They are a heritage that all citizens have forged, and must be guarded jealously against any interference from outside.

Trust is the basis of all relationships. And communication and widespread acceptance of one another's beliefs and practices build trust.

Our hawker centres allow us to eat together, enjoy the food we choose to enjoy without prejudice while we communicate with one another. This is the shining jewel that Singapore's society holds and what makes it unique.

Ong Lip Hua

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2019, with the headline 'Hawker centres - S'pore's shining jewel'. Print Edition | Subscribe