S'pore hawker culture friendlier, more inclusive

The hawker centre is perfect for social bonding over a meal, and this is one good reason why locals and tourists alike treat it as a must-visit for their meals.
The hawker centre is perfect for social bonding over a meal, and this is one good reason why locals and tourists alike treat it as a must-visit for their meals. PHOTO: ST FILE

Over the years, food and eating in Singapore have evolved into a unique hawker centre culture which has become an integral part of our lifestyle.

The hawker centre is perfect for social bonding over a meal, and this is one good reason why locals and tourists alike treat it as a must-visit for their meals.

Unless there is congruence in the culinary standards and objectives of Singapore and Malaysia, a joint listing will adversely affect the image of our great food heritage in this part of the world (Penang proposes joint S'pore-Malaysia Unesco hawker culture bid, May 5; and KL to follow up with S'pore on idea of joint Unesco listing, May 9).

While there is a range of delectable foods across the Causeway, I find the atmosphere at many of the eating places both less accommodating and less congenial as diners of various races are unlikely to share the same table when having their meals.

Here, it is common for people and even strangers to eat and interact at the same table in relaxed surroundings, regardless of cultural, religious or dietary differences.

Such a unique way of enjoying a meal with people from diverse backgrounds has always been the Singaporean way of life, thereby putting us at an advantage in our move to get Unesco recognition for our hawker culture.

Roughly half of Singaporeans eat at hawker centres six times a week or more, and many of them have pledged their support for the nomination of our hawker culture for Unesco listing.

Hence, we must not let a joint listing with Malaysia erode our standing as a vibrant hawker culture.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore hawker culture friendlier, more inclusive'. Print Edition | Subscribe