Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, BBM President of FMAS
Mr Anthony Low, Chairman of the Hawkers’ Division of FMAS
My Ministry colleague, SMS Dr Amy Khor
Representatives and Friends from the Hawker Community and colleagues from NEA
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you today at the Singapore Hawkers’ Seminar and Awards 2023, organised by The Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore (FMAS). I am heartened that so many of you have taken time off from your busy schedules to join us today to celebrate the contributions of our hawkers and to learn from one another. It is a good chance for our hawkers to come together and share your experiences.
2 Not long ago, our nation was grappling with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a challenging period for all of us, especially our hawkers. Even then we see many of our hawkers have demonstrated resilience while continuing to adapt and provide us with delicious and affordable meals.
Many of you have not only adapted to these challenges, but have seized new opportunities to sustain your hawker businesses.
3 As we transition back to our normal lives, hawkers continue to face other challenges. These include rising costs due to inflationary pressures arising from disruptions in global food and resource supply chains. There is also the need to adapt to patrons’ ever-changing needs and expectations, a point which the FMAS President made earlier. And of course, the challenge is to adopt digital solutions to remain relevant. Through it all, our hawkers have risen to these challenges, giving us the confidence that our hawkers will remain adaptable and continue to evolve with the changing needs of the market. So, the theme for today’s seminar, “A Progressive Hawker Culture”, is a very fitting and timely one for all of us to come together and have a discussion.
Encouraging our Hawkers to Continue Going Digital
4 Following the pandemic, more hawkers have begun to venture online, using digital solutions and delivery services to complement their walk-in business and expand their reach.
5 Let me take the opportunity to share the digitalisation journey of “Grandma Ban Mian” at Amoy Street Food Centre.
Run by Ms Teh Lay Bee, an award nominee for the Enterprising Hawker Award, Grandma Ban Mian has been creating Instagram posts and reels since 2016 to promote the business. Ms Teh also offers e-payment options at her stall and leverages on food delivery services. Taking a step further, Grandma Ban Mian has now gone online on Shopee and Lazada, selling their signature chilli ban mian products and condiments as ready-to-cook packets to a wider customer base. This is one “Grandma” that is certainly keeping up with the times! I hope that many of you out there can use this as an example to think out of the box and find other means of expanding your business.
6 To provide better support for our hawkers to go digital, NEA announced earlier this year that the Hawkers’ Productivity Grant (HPG) will be expanded to include stall-level digital solutions including e-ordering solutions. The total claimable amount for each stall-holder has also been increased from $5,000 to $7,000, and the funding period extended until March 2026.
7 I am happy that FMAS has brought in vendors today to showcase their digital solutions and kitchen automation equipment, which are eligible for application under the HPG.
I encourage you to tap on the HPG to adopt productivity and digital solutions, and engage with fellow hawkers during the panel session later where they are sharing their own journey and explore how technology can benefit your businesses and make your daily hawker lives more enjoyable.
Celebrating our Hawker Heritage
8 Even as we look forward to progress our hawker trade, we must not forget the heritage of our hawkers, many of whom have been in the hawker business for multiple generations. Today’s Hawker Heritage Award celebrates our established hawker brands whose culinary and management skills have been passed down through generations and have contributed to the continuation of Singapore’s unique hawker culture.
9 These award nominees bear testament to our rich hawker legacy. For example, Tian Nan Xing Minced Pork Noodle, a hawker business run by Mr Tan Poh Chye and his family that has been established for close to a century and is present at two hawker centres today. How many Singapore businesses can claim to be around for a whole century? That is formidable and unique for a hawker stall. And D’Authentic Nasi Lemak at Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre, a longstanding stall helmed by Mr Sulaiman Bin Abu who started by helping out at his mother’s stall during his childhood and now runs the business with his children. They represent generations of hawkers who have carried the torch, passed on their unique recipes, and continue to shape our hawker culture, which remains a very essential part of our Singapore identity. That is something we need to work harder at to preserve.
Developing the Next Generation of Hawkers
10 To sustain our hawker trade and preserve our hawker heritage, we must develop the next generation of hawkers. I am pleased to welcome culinary students from ITE College West and Asian Culinary Institute, who have joined us. I hope that today’s seminar and panel discussion can inspire them to take that step and venture into the hawker trade.
11 However, the truth is that the path of a hawker is not an easy one, and we recognise that new entrants can benefit from guidance and support that help lower the barriers of entry. This is why NEA has developed various hawker programmes over the past few years. SMS Amy Khor has been a great champion for these programs and I’m glad that she is here to witness the achievement of some of these hawkers!
12 Let me take this chance to share some of the programmes we’ve been pushing out for the past few years. These include the Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP), which equips aspiring hawkers with basic culinary and business skills through a structured classroom programme and provides an 8-week apprenticeship with veteran hawkers.
13 Additionally, there is the Incubation Stall Programme (ISP), which offers subsidised rentals at hawker centres over 15 months with fitted-out stalls to lower start-up costs. We have also introduced the Hawker Succession Scheme (HSS) to match retiring hawkers with aspiring new hawkers. Furthermore, the Socially-Conscious Enterprise operators at our new hawker centres have also implemented similar incubation programmes to support new entrants.Since 2018, over 60 new hawkers have entered the trade through these programmes that I’ve just shared, and many others have also benefitted from the training and apprenticeship offered by these programmes.
14 Sustaining our hawker trade is a collective effort. Many of our veteran hawkers have played an important role in nurturing the next generation. Therefore, I am heartened that FMAS has introduced a new award this year – the Outstanding Hawker Mentor Award to recognise exceptional veteran hawkers for their contributions in guiding aspiring hawkers.
15 One of the award nominees is Mdm Tham For Moy, of Hon Ni Kitchen at Block 216 Bedok Food Centre and Market.
As a veteran nasi lemak stall holder with 20 years of experience, Mdm Tham has actively provided mentorship within the hawker community over the past 4 years. She unreservedly shared her experience and knowledge with 12 apprentice hawkers even though some had no prior cooking experience, and connected them with other apprentices as business partners. 7 of her apprentices have gone on to open their hawker stalls. Well done!
16 A big thank you to all our hawker mentors for your support of our programmes!
Enhancing Vibrancy of our Hawker Centres
17 Besides hawkers and their hawker food, our hawker centres are also a critical part of our hawker culture. They are community spaces where Singaporeans from all walks of life gather together to share our love for local food.
18 To boost the vibrancy at our hawker centres, NEA introduced the Vibrant Hawker Centres programme in 2017 to support ground-up initiatives such as art workshops, music performances and carnival games within the hawker centres. Although this programme was suspended during COVID-19, I am happy to share that NEA will be launching it as a broadened Vibrant Hawker Culture (VHC) programme this year.
19 NEA has broadened the programme scope to include support for initiatives that promote hawker culture, such as interactive exhibitions and performances that can be held outside of hawker centres. In addition, the funding cap for each project will be raised from $2,000 to $5,000, capped at $10,000 per financial year for the same individual or organisation. With these enhancements, we look forward to more partners coming on board to inject liveliness and vibrancy into our hawker centres.
20 To conclude, it takes the collective efforts of our hawker community, hawker advocates and Singaporeans to safeguard the legacy of our hawker culture and sustain it for future generations. I thank FMAS for organising this year’s Singapore Hawkers’ Seminar and Awards, and my heartfelt congratulations to all award winners and nominees.
21 I will now say a few words in Mandarin.
22 下午好，很高兴能和大家一起参加由新加坡全国商联总会（FMAS）主办的 “2023年新加坡小贩座谈会与小贩奖” 。我很欣慰大家在百忙中抽空一起欢庆小贩们的贡献，和互相学习。
24 在我们适应疫情后新常态的当儿，小贩们还得面对其他的挑战。这些包括：全球食品和供应链中断所带来的通胀压力、成本上涨、掌握数码科技和顾客口味的转变。不过，我有信心，我们的小贩会继续求新求变、应对挑战，把小贩生意打理好。因此，这次座谈会的主题 “携手共创小贩辉煌” ，很恰当，也很重要。
25 疫情过后，更多小贩除了经营实体小贩摊，也在线上经营业务，充分利用数码科技和送餐平台所带来的商机扩大小贩业务。 为了更好地协助小贩数码化，国家环境局之前宣布了将扩大 “小贩生产力资助金”（Hawkers’ Productivity Grant）的范围，让小贩们能够依照小贩摊的需求找到适合自己的数码解决方案，比如电子订餐方案。每名摊主可获得的总额也从5000元增加到7000元，资助期限也延长至2026年3月。
26 我很高兴新加坡全国商联总会邀请了一些商家与大家分享他们的数码解决方案和厨房自动化设备。这些解决方案和设备都符合HPG的申请条件。我鼓励大家利用 “小贩生产力资助金” ，并在稍后的小组讨论会上一起探讨如何应用科技让您的企业受益。
- 小贩培训计划（Hawkers Development Programme）、
- 培育摊位计划（Incubation Stall Programme）、
- 小贩承前启后计划（Hawker Succession Scheme）。
29 为了让小贩中心主入新活力，国家环境局将在今年扩大 “活跃小贩文化” 计划 （Vibrant Hawker Culture Programme）的范围，把推广小贩文化的项目，例如在小贩中心外举行互动展览和表演等项目纳入计划当中。此外，每个项目的资助顶限也将从2000元提高到5000元，而个人或机构每个财政年度的资助顶限是1万元。有了这些改善措施，我期待有更多伙伴的加入，让我们的小贩行业更加有活力。