Following the Government’s announcement in October 2011 that it will build 10 new hawker centres over the next decade, REACH contributors actively gave their feedback on how our hawker centres can be enhanced to meet Singaporeans’ needs.
Showing how hawker centres are close to the hearts (and stomachs) of many Singaporeans, contributors gave a wide range of suggestions, such as improving the ambience of the centres by introducing greenery & art work and putting in place facilities where diners can clear their food trays after eating.
Their feedback was shared with the Hawker Centre Public Consultation Panel, which was appointed by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in November 2011 to consult the public and provide new ideas for hawker centres.
The Panel has submitted its preliminary recommendations on 27 February 2012. Incorporating suggestions from the public and hawkers, the Panel’s recommendations focus on areas such as the management model, design and vibrancy of the hawker centres.
Here, we bring you the press release which details the preliminary recommendations from the Panel.
Press Release: Hawker Centre Public Consultation Panel Shares Its Recommendations For New Hawker Centres
New Hawker Centres – Affordable Food, Vibrant Spaces, Meeting Community Needs
Singapore, 27 February 2012 – The Hawker Centre Public Consultation Panel is sharing its recommendations with the public for the new hawker centres in providing affordable and tasty food in clean, comfortable and pleasant surroundings. This is in line with the objectives of transforming hawker centres into iconic, gracious and vibrant social spaces for community dining.
The Panel welcomes the decision by the government to build ten new hawker centres to serve estates with underprovision of *****ed food stalls. The increase in supply of hawker centres will provide more dining options for the public, as well as a moderating influence on rentals. The Panel also welcomes the review of rental policies as part of overall efforts to ensure food prices remain affordable.
The Panel, which was appointed by The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources to provide ideas on the new hawker centres to be built, comprises 18 representatives from different segments of society and industries, and was formed in November 2011 following the government's announcement in October 2011 that it would start building new hawker centres.
The Panel met to deliberate on its recommendations to the government. It also met hawkers and members of the public and visited a number of hawker centres. In developing its recommendations, the Panel adopted the following key principles:
a) The community should derive maximum benefit from the centre;
b) The centre should provide opportunities for employment; and
c) The centre could provide a platform for enterprising individuals to enter the food industry.
The Panel has garnered more than 200 suggestions through its Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/myhawkercentre
), covering topics such as hawker centre management, subletting, rental, allocation of stalls, tray return ideas, and improvement to design and infrastructure, among other suggestions.
The recommendations, incorporating suggestions from the public and hawkers, are shared below:
1) Management Model
The Panel has suggested that the new hawker centres could be managed and operated by a socially conscious operator, such as a social enterprise or a cooperative.
The focus of the operator should be on providing affordable food, in a clean and hygienic setting. This can be achieved through the operator’s tenancy arrangements with its stallholders. Stallholders could offer at least one ‘value meal’ or affordable food option. This would mean providing the choice of a meal which is priced lower than the majority of competing neighbouring coffeeshops or eateries.
The centre operator should also prevent profiteering by stallholders who do not intend to personally operate the stalls e.g. by restricting full day sub-letting and disallowing stall assignment except to immediate family members to preserve traditional or heritage food. In line with the aim of keeping food affordable, stall rentals should be lower than what is usually offered by many food courts and coffee shops. The operator should also ensure the food mix is balanced, offer a healthy food option and meet the diverse needs of the community.
The new centres could also help to create economic opportunities by encouraging ‘hawkerpreneurship’, which leads to viable livelihoods. Stall allocation to individual hawkers should be made a priority. In addition, the new centres would also create additional employment opportunities, for example, in the area of cleaning services.
Given changing preferences and lifestyles, the provision of wet markets should be assessed based on the real needs of the local community.
In terms of design, the Panel has suggested that the centres showcase efficiency in the use and management of limited resources and should also promote environmental sustainability. This could be exemplified by, but not necessarily limited to, the following:
i) adopting energy and water efficient practices and features, such as encouraging the use of natural ventilation and lighting by ensuring appropriate building orientation and creating sensitive design details and features for our tropical climate;
ii) providing recycling facilities, such as food waste collection points and recycling bins; and
iii) incorporating green features, such as roof gardens, bioswales, green materials etc, when and where applicable and appropriate.
The new hawker centres should also promote green initiatives, for example, by using more sustainable packaging options such as corn-starch based take-away boxes. To reduce the use of styrofoam food containers and plastic bottles, hawkers could consider offering food rebates to consumers who bring their own containers or water bottles. Hawkers should also charge extra for non-biodegradable items such as straws and disposable cutleries.
Hawker centres are a natural focal point for the neighbourhood. The vibrancy of the new centres should be increased by providing spaces for community activities for both young and old, such as *****ing demonstrations, street busking and children’s activities.
A good mix of retail and household services such as locksmiths, cobblers and alteration services near food stalls can also draw traffic to the hawker centres. By providing complementary products and services near to hawker centres, it offers greater convenience to patrons and attracts more people to the vicinity, hence increasing the vibrancy of the place.
With hawker centres being an icon of Singapore and a showcase of our food culture, hawker centres can be branded as ‘Singapore’s Kitchens of the World’, with food trails organised for both locals and tourists. Promoting hawker fare will also ensure vibrancy of hawker centres, which helps to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Singapore.
Instilling Social Graciousness
As a common space where social norms are formed and reinforced, hawker centres can also be a platform to develop and nurture social graciousness among patrons and stallholders. The ultimate goal of social graciousness, or ‘Heartware’, can be reached through the combination of ‘Hardware’ and ‘Software’.
‘Hardware’ would include physical features, such as table decals reminding patrons to return their trays and better toilets and washing areas to reduce splashing. Patrons are encouraged to clear their dishes after meals and return trays to a central tray collection point. That way, cleaners’ jobs can be redesigned such that they clean mainly in the central washing area. This would be complemented by ‘Software’ which would include getting the various stakeholders, such as the stallholders, cleaners, management and customers to promote social graciousness. The Panel hopes that the combination of both ‘Hardware’ and ‘Software’ can create ‘Heartware’, which contributes to a socially gracious Singapore.
The Hawker Centre Public Consultation Panel has submitted its preliminary recommendations to the Ministry on 27 February 2012 and would like to thank all members of the public who have given their valuable inputs and comments. For further suggestions to the recommendations, members of the public can write in to firstname.lastname@example.org
. The Panel targets to submit its final recommendations to the Ministry at the end of March.
Update on 15 May
The Ministry of Environment and Water Resources has agreed to most of the Hawker Centre Public Consultation Panel’s recommendations. Some ideas have already been implemented, such as the ban on subletting. Other key recommendations, such as having a single agency manage cleaning services in existing centres, are being reviewed. Read more here ‘MEWR Agrees with Most of Panel’s Hawker Centre recommendations’.