Time to learn lessons and put things right

Something that is labelled "not-for-profit" should be affordable and economical not only to consumers, but also - in the case of the recent discussion on the new hawker centre model - to the hawkers as well.

I agree with calls from some circles that the National Environment Agency (NEA) should take back the operation of hawker centres if the objective is truly non-profit and the preservation of the hawker culture (Time to end not-for-profit hawker centre experiment; Oct 16).

The experience of similar ventures in the past - Sports Hub comes to mind - has shown that these hybrid systems or private-public partnership operations have met with too many stumbling blocks for them to be considered viable, especially in the initial stages of implementation.

We have witnessed how such collaborations have often become embroiled in intractable management problems as conflict arises between different interests.

Sacrificing the hawker centre enterprise at the altar of private operators whose sole interest is the bottomline wastes the efforts of hawkers who put their hearts and soul into their work.

It is time for us to retrace our steps, learn the lessons and put things right.

Seah Yam Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2018, with the headline 'Time to learn lessons and put things right'. Print Edition | Subscribe