Saturday, 11 April 2015

[Today] Hawker centres help moderate food prices

The letter “Build modern cafeterias, not hawker centres, in Singapore” (Apirl 8) has attracted many comments online on the need to preserve and build more hawker centres to cater for people from different walks of life.

The view expressed in “Society should progress, but things like hawker centres should be retained” (April 9) is similar to those comments.

The operating cost of air-conditioned places would lead to higher food prices, and there are already complaints about increasing prices in food courts and hawker centres. Without hawker centres, less privileged families would be unable to bear the cost.

However, besides cost, many people like to patronise hawker centres, instead of food courts, for the authenticity of the food.

Due to constraints, food court chefs are not allowed to cook using great heat and big fire, two paramount factors in preparing certain authentic food, at times.

It would also be misconceived to think hawker centre food is unhygienic.

There have been restaurants, including those in hotels, that have been made to close temporarily due to food poisoning and other hygiene issues, but have we heard of hawker centres being closed because they are unhygienic?

Supply must meet demand for prices to moderate, and the new hawker centres to be built are part of those efforts.

Singapore has rich cultural diversity and food. If we want our nice food to attract tourists and foodies, then we must look into ways to maintain the authenticity of famous Singaporean food.

Efforts have been made to restore authenticity through the many organised cooking lessons and competitions, including at community centres.

Tourists and Singaporeans should have ample choices — hawker centres, food courts or high-end restaurants — for Singapore to be a foodie centre and not only a utopia, in time to come.