A Food-Loving Nation’s Dilemma – Don’t Be Afraid to Question Authority

Photo credit: Daniel Goh

Daniel Goh’s inquisitive nature seems to have catapulted him into stardom (hawker hero, anyone?). A now-viral photo he uploaded onto Facebook which shows the “Conditions of Licence” for a hawker is coupled with a caption which questions the ambiguity and existence of an “archaic rule” forced upon hawkers. What made it even better (I may be jumping the gun on this), is that environment minister Vivian Balakrishnan reacted almost immediately and “instructed NEA to remove this archaic rule from the hawker stall licence with immediate effect”. Following which, the ministry stated in the papers that the rule was in place “to ensure zhi char stalls had proper equipment to deal with smoke”. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, knowing the supposed truth about why something that shouldn’t have happened, well, happened, doesn’t make me feel any better than the experience (or thought) of the said thing happening in the first place (read: repeated reasons excuses for the increasing number of train breakdowns in Singapore; didn’t anyone tell them about learning from mistakes and NOT repeating them?!). But I digress.

I first learned about this “archaic rule” during the Youth Hawkerprise workshop last year. Suffice to say, the NEA‘s representative (an anonymously named “NEA Officer”; as published on the event’s official (but now defunct) page) failed to properly and convincingly address the aforementioned rule (conveniently and coincidentally, as opposed to other speakers at the workshop event, the video of the “NEA Officer”‘s speech/presentation isn’t listed on the Youth Hawkerprise YouTube channel either). Other than ambiguity, such rules only serve to discourage and deter potential chefs and cooks from venturing into the food and beverage industry; particularly in the hawker/hawking “sub-division”.

Let’s hope that this step in eradicating outdated and ridiculous rules shall pave a way for much more glorious days for our hawker culture. Maybe they can follow up with looking into rule #2.

Related reads:
Minister Vivian Balakrishnan surprises web with swift action on ‘archaic’ NEA rule
Outdated rule for food hawkers meant to deal with ‘zhi char’ stalls: NEA
NEA explains ‘archaic’ zhi char rule for hawkers

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