KF Seetoh questions why the 34 hawker centres are being closed “as they struggle to fend for themselves”

Singapore — Makansutra founder and advocate for all things hawker KF Seetoh questioned the need for 34 hawker centres to be closed, just “as they struggle to fend for themselves”.

In a Facebook post on Monday (Sep 13), Mr Seetoh wrote that these hawker centres have “been specially singled out with tighter measures (CB, HA, HA2 with no light at end of tunnel in sight) and these 3-4 mth closures for upgrading works are badly timed and rolled out even if the govt decree was made long ago”.

According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), some 34 hawker centres were closed on Monday (Sep 13) alone. The hawker centres were closed for cleaning or repair and redecoration works.

They are:

1. Aljunied Ave 2 Blk 117 (Blk 117 Aljunied Market and Food Centre)
2. Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 Blk 226D (Kebun Baru Market and Food Centre)
3. Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 Blk 409 (Teck Ghee Square)
4. Ang Mo Kio Street 22 Blk 226H (Kebun Baru Food Centre)
5. Bedok Food Centre
6. Bedok North Street 3 Blk 538
7. Beo Crescent Market
8. Buffalo Road Blk 665 (Tekka Centre/Zhu Jiao Market)
9. Bukit Timah Market
10. Eunos Crescent Blk 4A
11. Geylang Bahru Blk 69 (Blk 69 Geylang Bahru Market and Food Centre)
12. Ghim Moh Road Blk 20
13. Hougang Ave 1 Blk 105 (Hougang 105 Hainanese Village Centre)
14. Jalan Bukit Merah Blk 6 (ABC Brickworks Market/Food Centre)
15. Jalan Kukoh Blk 1 (Kukoh 21 Food Centre)
16. Jurong East Ave 1 Blk 347 (Yuhua Market and Hawker Centre)
17. Jurong West Street 52 Blk 505
18. Kallang Estate Fresh Market and Food Centre
19. Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre
20. Marine Terrace Blk 50A (50A Marine Terrace)
21. Marsiling Lane Blk 20/21
22. Mei Chin Road Blk 159 (Mei Chin Road Market)
23. New Upper Changi Road Blk 58
24. Queen Street Blk 270 (Albert Centre)
25. Redhill Lane Blk 79 (Redhill Market)
26. Redhill Lane Blk 85 (Redhill Food Centre)
27. Serangoon Garden Market
28. Tanglin Halt Market
29. Telok Blangah Crescent Blk 11 (11 Telok Blangah Crescent Market and Food Centre)
30. Toa Payoh Lorong 7 Blk 22 (Kim Keat Palm Market and Food Centre)
31. West Coast Drive Blk 502 (Ayer Rajah Market)
32. West Coast Drive Blk 503 (Ayer Rajah Food Centre)
33. Whampoa Drive Blk 91/92 (Whampoa Drive Makan Place/Whampoa Market)
34. Yishun Ring Road Blk 104/105 (Chong Pang Market and Food Centre)

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A WhatsApp message with the list was also circulated on Monday (Sep 13). In his post, Mr Seetoh expressed that these regularly maintained hawker centres did not pose a huge threat, and postponing some of the 3-month-long closures would be really appreciated by the already-struggling hawkers.

Additionally, the sudden announcement on Saturday night (Sept 11) that Chinatown Complex would be closed at 3 pm on Sunday for cleaning and disinfection resulted in business at the food complex there dropping by some 90 per cent, hawkers said.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), in a late-night notice on Saturday, said 66 cases have been linked to a cluster there.

“Really….what do you want these self employed micro business folks to do for 3 mths. They can’t eat your rental waivers nor take public transport with it. What about the kids they are raising or old folks under their care?”, Mr Seetoh wrote. He also cited Straits Times statistics from the same day that state 85 per cent of Singaporeans are fully vaccinated and out of the confirmed Covid-19 cases, “only 7 are in ICU and 35 need ventilators currently”.

Mr Seetoh remarked that he did not “think Covid will avoid the restaurants in the malls just cos the edict said 5 vaxxed people allowed per table but unvaxxed or asymptomatic folks can loiter along the walkways and other retail shops in the mall”, but he pushed for the same standards in hawker centres where those vaccinated could be seated separately in groups of five, while those unvaccinated could still be in groups of two.

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He wrote: “Many of these hirers, employers and self employed, had been running on empty for too long. I pray they can hold on in this darkness still ahead. I hope there will still be a decent economy left after this Sg Covid carnage. Not many employers may be left standing”.

In a previous post, Mr Seetoh took to social media to point out that despite the majority of the population being fully vaccinated, the government still has not relaxed Covid-19 regulations.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 26), Mr Seetoh wrote: “Have they forgotten to loosen the HAP2 status because a VIP was in town and forgot about the little people”.

He added that it was ironic that the rules only allowed two per group at Hawker centres and food courts, but allowed groups of five at indoor air-conditioned food courts. “As if circulated indoor air is much better,” he wrote.

He said that for every additional day the two-person rule existed, hawkers were denied the opportunity to earn a little extra and pay their bills. He noted that this was especially significant for those who relied on foot traffic. Mr Seetoh added that he stopped keeping count after over 150 small hawkers went belly-up last year. /TISG

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