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New NEA Scheme Lets Retiring S’porean Hawkers Pass On Stall And Skills To Non-Family Members

hawker uncle singapore

In this day and age, it’s getting harder for the younger generation to take up a job as a hawker.

This leaves existing hawkers with a dilemma: who can they pass on their stall to if they decide to retire?

In order to preserve the hawker culture in Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) announced today (Nov 24) a new scheme that lets non-subsidised, retiring hawker stallholders pass on their stalls to non-family members and non-relatives.

These older hawkers will be paired with new entrants for “succession” so that their recipes and culinary skills can be passed on, while allowing them to mentor new hawkers on how to best manage their stalls.

Pilot Starts In Q1 2021

This new scheme, proposed by a 19-member workgroup — primarily made up of hawkers and co-chaired by Edward Chia, MP of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and managing director of Timbre Group — will only be piloted in the first quarter of 2021.

There are currently about 6,000 hawkers spread over 110 hawker centres, and the national median age for hawkers is at 59 years old.

Previous rules mandated that only some of them could pass on their stalls to relatives and family members.

Additionally, only stallholders with rentals subsidised — those who were relocated from the streets in the early 1970s, or allocated stalls under a previous Government hardship scheme — were allowed to assign their stall to non-relatives.

Commenting on this scheme proposal, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Dr Amy Khor, said that it helps to tackle some of the key challenges faced in the hawker trade.

“The idea is to facilitate the transmission of recipes, skills and practices which might be lost if the veteran exits the scene without a successor,” she added.

Singapore is currently in the midst of getting our hawker culture inscribed on the Unesco intangible cultural heritage list.

If the nomination is successful, Singapore will have to submit a report to Unesco every six years on its efforts to safeguard hawker culture.

Featured Image Credit: YP SG

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