Hawker culture

Forum: Time to work on cleanliness, hygiene standards

A woman taking a used bowl to the return station at a hawker centre on Aug 10, 2020.
A woman taking a used bowl to the return station at a hawker centre on Aug 10, 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

I am a Singaporean and a die-hard fan of our hawker centres.

I applaud the National Heritage Board, the National Environment Agency and the Federation of Merchants' Associations Singapore for working tirelessly for nearly three years to secure the Unesco listing for our hawker culture.

However, I worry about the state of hygiene at hawker centres. Most of the centres that I visit, which include many of the well-known ones, still fall short of the cleanliness and hygiene standards that one expects in a food centre. Tables are still littered with leftovers and dirty tissue paper, as well as trays of crockery that have not been returned to the allocated stations.

I wonder how tourists would be attracted to patronise our food centres should the present situation remain unchanged.

Given the latest news, it is timely for the relevant agencies to make a more concerted effort to ensure the bad habits of diners at our hawker centres are curtailed, even by an enactment of law if necessary. This may help improve the situation such that cleanliness and good hygiene practised at the centres become part and parcel of our cultural heritage.

The Unesco listing is an honour and we must strive to always be deserving of it.

Andrew Tan Chye Hee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2020, with the headline 'Time to work on cleanliness, hygiene standards'. Subscribe