I was in Tanjung Pinang recently for a fishing trip. While we were sitting in a nearby coffeeshop, I spied this hawker who was working non-stop, making their version of wanton mee. The way he placed a plastic bag into the plastic mug for takeaway orders was a real blast from the past. I am not sure if our hawkers still pack their wonton mee like this nowadays. I think most of them are using plastic containers instead.
I sat there for almost an hour just observing him working non-stop. The young man was fast. Real fast. When I took a video of him at work and showed it to my fellow fishing kakis, they all remarked that it was almost as if the video was in fast forward!
Now, young hawkers like these are what we need to fill our hawker centres! Why are we employing foreign workers who know nuts about hawker food and putting them to work in our food courts? Doesn’t it make more sense to open the doors for hawkers like these from Tanjung Pinang or Malaysia to come to Singapore to sell their food? The only way to preserve the soul of hawker food is to allow hawkers to be their own boss rather than to earn a paltry salary working for a conglomerate. Perhaps we should break out of our existing paradigm and offer young talents like this hawker from Tanjung Pinang a hawker stall where he can come and earn big Singapore bucks. Initially, he might just do it and send money back home, but eventually, like many of our forefathers, they might decide to stay, become citizens and bear lots of boys to serve NS.
These migrant hawkers are sure to be hardworking and their food and their food is not so much different from ours. Certainly closer than if they come from the northern parts of China. Surely they can play a role in helping to preserve our hawker heritage?
What do you think?