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  • SBF supports UNESCO status for Singapore hawker culture

SBF supports UNESCO status for Singapore hawker culture


  • Affirms the value of hawker culture and other initiatives for long-term sustainability of the trade
  • Encourages its member companies, trade associations and chambers to pledge their support for the initiative

25 October 2018 [Singapore] - Affordable, tasty, readily available, no frills – attributes that sum up Singapore hawker fare and our time-honored and endearing heritage. In recognition of the pivotal role of hawker culture in Singapore’s street food scene, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) is calling on its 26,000 member-companies to support its inclusion in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Hawkers are a unique segment of micro-businesses and are found almost everywhere across the island, providing tasty, affordable fare which reflects Singapore’s melting pot of ethnicities. Hawker culture spawns a heritage that is community-based, focusing on social and economic value and the transfer of knowledge and skills from one generation to the next.

Notwithstanding that the hawker trade is a unique facet of Singapore culture, it faces the challenge of long-term sustainability. Long hours, uncomfortable working conditions, meagre compensation and the rising cost of business dissuade entry, and pressure existing hawkers into leaving the trade. The problem of continuity is compounded by a younger generation who are more skilled and have many choices of professional careers over what is widely perceived as a blue-collar occupation.

SBF Chairman Mr SS Teo said: “While socio-economic factors exert pressure on the long-term viability of the hawker trade, it is nonetheless a much-cherished part of Singapore’s cultural heritage, and therefore something that we ought to protect for as long as possible. UNESCO recognition represents an affirmative step towards preserving this legacy for future generations.”

“In addition to government policies already in place, Singaporeans can play a part as gracious users of hawker centres by being courteous, clean and returning their food trays. Corporates can also contribute to this effort”, he added.

“Corporate support in the form of domain expertise, technology and recognition can contribute to the automation of processes, work flow and operational efficiency to help hawkers reduce overhead costs. Our hawkers are amongst our smallest businesses, our larger companies should deal with them with fairness. They can help secure a future for the hawker trade in Singapore. SBF supports the UNESCO bid and welcomes the Committee recently appointed to oversee and guide the effort for the bid. I encourage our members, fellow trade associations and chambers to pledge their support for this worthy cause as well”, concluded Mr Teo.

Companies and organisations may pledge their support for our UNESCO bid for Singapore’s hawker culture at https://www.oursgheritage.sg

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