In October 2011, the government announced plans to build ten more hawker centres over the next decade. Since the early seventies, hawker centres had become part of Singapore’s unique culture. The mid-eighties saw some 140 markets and hawker centres located all over the island, although the number now stands at around 100.
Wet markets, on the other hand, are the main sources of fresh produce such as meat, fish, vegetables and fruits. However, they are gradually losing their clientele due to the competitiveness, convenience and cleanliness of supermarkets. Today, the large wet markets that are still going strong include Chinatown Complex Market, Empress Market (or Farrer Market), Holland Village Market, Tiong Bahru Market, Tekka Centre, Toa Payoh Central Market, Ghim Moh Market and Geylang Serai Market.
From Street Hawkers to Hawker Centres
Hawker centres were first built in 1971 as part of the government’s street hawkers resettlement program. Before hawker centres, street hawkers had to constantly face the wrath of di gu (National Environment Agency inspectors), and customers were exposed to hygienic issues. After several food poisoning and epidemic cases, the Environment Ministry decided to clean up the streets.
Yung Sheng Food Centre at Jurong was the first hawker centre to operate in Singapore. It proved to be a success, clearing the doubts of the street hawkers and prompting others to follow suit. The hawker centre was later merged with Corporation Drive Food Centre and Corporation Drive Market to become Taman Jurong Market & Food Centre.
In 1985, Jurong West Street 52 Block 505 Market & Food Centre was the last hawker centre to be built, and a year later, the last street hawker was successfully resettled.
Between the late seventies and early nineties, many hawker centres were renamed as (cooked) food centres, but many still preferred to call them by their old names.
The former Telok Ayer Market, Singapore’s first ever market, had its history dated all the way back to 1825. It began as a simple wooden structure standing next to the sea, so as to allow goods to be loaded and unloaded directly to the boats. Due to the land reclamation of Telok Ayer Basin, the market was demolished in 1879, but was rebuilt five years later by James MacRitchie (1848-1895), the Municipal Engineer, who retained its iconic octagonal shape but changed its building materials to cast-iron.
Despite being conserved in 1973, the market had to be dismantled in 1984 due to the nearby tunneling of the MRT system. It took more than five years before the market was reassembled and reconstructed, sticking to James MacRitchie’s original design. It finally reopened in 1991 as Lau Pa Sat (“old market”).
Other prominent hawker centres in Singapore are Maxwell Road Food Centre (originally Maxwell Market since 1935), Tiong Bahru Market (since 1955), Newton Circus Food Centre (since 1971), Chomp Chomp Food Centre (since 1972), East Coast Lagoon Food Village (previously East Coast Hawker Centre, since 1978) and Pasir Panjang Food Centre (since 1978).
In the eighties, the Chinatown Complex Food Centre was the largest hawker centre in Singapore with an astonishing 803 stalls.
Currently, the markets and hawker centres in Singapore are largely managed by three entities; Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), Housing Development Board (HDB) and Jurong Town Corporation (JTC).
Below are some of Singapore’s vanished markets and hawker centres (not in alphabetical or chronological order) in the past decades.
Orchard Road Market (1891-1982)
The almost century-old Orchard Road Market was a firm notable landmark located at the junction of Orchard Road and Koek Road, where Orchard Point is standing now.
The land where Orchard Road Market once stood on belonged to early nutmeg plantation owner William Cuppage in the 19th century, whose estate was later inherited by his son-in-law Edwin Koek. Both Cuppage Road and Koek Road were named after them.
In 1890, the Municipal Authorities bought the land and built a new cast-iron market which had extensions and wings added over the years. Its iconic six metre tall fountain, made in Scotland, was brought over from Telok Ayer Market in 1902. The fountain accompanied Orchard Road Market for some eighty years before it was shifted again to Raffles Hotel.
Orchard Road Market was an extremely popular place for fresh produce in the sixties. In 1982, it was demolished by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in a bid to transform Orchard Road into a prime shopping district.
Orchard Road Carpark Hawker Centre (1966-1978)
Located at open-air carpark next to the Specialists’ Shopping Centre, the Orchard Road Carpark Hawker Centre, also known as Glutton’s Square, was one of the most popular makan places in Singapore.
The street hawkers pushed their wooden carts, generators, cooking utensils and pails of water and set them up in rows in the carpark after it was closed at 5pm everyday. The feasting usually lasted from dinnertime to suppertime in the early morning, sometimes till 5am.
By the early seventies, the place had reached its peak of popularity, especially among young couples, families and tourists. In its later years, Glutton’s Square, however, gained an unwanted reputation of being a “carrothead chopping” place for foreigners.
As many as 80 stalls were selling delicious local delights at cheap affordable prices, such as Hokkien mee, char kway teow, bak chor mee, satay, bak kut teh and orh luak.
Despite being popular with the customers, Glutton’s Square was constantly bothered by overcrowding and hygienic issues. In 1978, the government decided to close it, and relocate the hawkers to the Newton Circus and Cuppage hawker centres. The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) tried to revive the nostalgic charm of Glutton’s Square during the Singapore Food Festival 2004. Lasted until early 2005, the event was met with overwhelming responses, although the prices of the food had risen dramatically as compared to the older days.
Boat Quay Food Centre and Empress Place Food Centre (1973-1993)
Boat Quay Food Centre was built in 1973 with a splendid (some said smelly) waterfront view of the Singapore River filled with tongkangs and twakows. Tongkang and twakow are Malay and Hokkien/Teochew words for bumboat.
The purpose of the hawker centre was to accommodate the street hawkers plying their trades at Hallpike Street near the original Parliament House. Now defunct, Hallpike Street was named after Stephen Hallpike, an English blacksmith who arrived here in 1826 and founded the first shipyard (or boatyard) in Singapore.
Enjoyed by the working class in the city, the hawker centre offered many delicious and affordable food, and it was particularly famous for a stall selling beef kway teow.
In 1983, due to the construction of MRT work, some ninety hawkers from Boat Quay Food Centre and Empress Place Food Centre were shifted to a temporary site named Empress Place Transit Food Centre off North Boat Quay. Boat Quay Food Centre itself was demolished by the mid-nineties due to the redevelopment plans to turn the place into a trendy spot for wine and dine.
Telok Ayer Transit Food Centre (early 1980s-1997)
Like Boat Quay Hawker Centre, Telok Ayer Transit Hawker Centre was also a convenient lunch venue for many working class at Shenton Way.
When the Telok Ayer Market (later Lau Pa Sat) was dismantled between 1984 and 1991 due to the construction works of the MRT, many stallholders were relocated to Telok Ayer Transit Hawker Centre. One of them was the now-famous Ya-Kun coffee-stall.
Originally meant to be the temporary site for Lau Pa Sat stalls (hence the name “transit”), the hawker centre, however, stayed on for a couple of years after the new market was reopened. It was eventually shut down at the end of 1997.
Simon Road Market (1948-1999)
The popular Simon Road Market was built in August 1948, initially at the nearby Lim Ah Pin Road before moving to Simon Road, or fondly known as “ow gang lark kok jio” (Hougang sixth milestone).
Simon Road was named after prominent Eurasian of Portuguese descent Simon Aroozoo (1850-1931) (who also had the nearby Aroozoo Avenue named after him), a close friend of Gan Eng Seng.
When Simon Road Market was first set up, it was met with poor response by the public. A series of publicity campaigns was carried before things improved. From then on, vegetable farmers from Potong Pasir and fishermen from Kangkar and Serangoon River would bring their products to Simon Road Market every morning for sale.
The market would later become a makan haven, serving delicious Hokkien mee, muah chee, pork congee, wanton mee and mee rebus. However, it was demolished in 1999, with some of the stall holders moved to the markets in Hougang to continue their businesses.
Today, the once-bustling market was no more, only to be replaced by posh condominiums. The only landmark still remaining is the newly-renovated Nam Heng kopitiam standing at the junction of Simon Road and Upper Serangoon Road, and a pair of bronze statues that served as the memories of the vanished Simon Road Market.
Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre (1969-2011)
The double-storey Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre used to stand at the sleepy Margaret Drive of Queenstown. It was the favourite makan place of many residents and working people especially during lunchtime, where it served popular Teochew fishball noodle, chicken rice, popiahs and char kway teow.
In early 2011, after more than three decades of operation, the popular hawker centre was officially closed. Like its surrounding blocks of flats, it was demolished as new plans of redevelopment were laid out for the large plots of land opposite Queenstown MRT Station.
Seletar Hills Market & Food Centre (1974-2005)
The old wet market by HDB (Housing Development Board) proved to be a popular grocery and makan place during its heydays, enjoyed by the flat-dwellers as well as the residents living at the nearby private estate. Flanked by four block of low-rise flats, there was also a basketball court beside the large open-air carpark, where the players would enjoy a cold drink or dessert at the hawker centre after their games.
In 2000, Seletar Hills Market was partially damaged in a fire, costing $700,000 to refurbish it. However, two years later, the blocks of flats at Seletar Road was torn down under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS), causing the market to lose a critical mass of customers. Thus, in 2005, Seletar Hills Market & Food Centre also met its demise. After being left vacated for almost four years, its site is now occupied by the residential-cum-shopping mall Greenwich.
Lim Tua Tow Market (early 1960s-early 1990s)
Lim Tua Tow Road, commonly known as ow gang gor kok jio (Hougang fifth milestone), was named after Chinese pioneer and Teochew merchant Lim Tua Tow (Tua Tow means “big head” in Teochew). Naturally, the wet market that once stood here was called Lim Tua Tow Market.
Well-known for its Hokkien mee and chai tow kuay, Lim Tua Tow Market served the community living at Upper Serangoon well. It also was the main grocery place for the residents living at Chia Keng Village, a teochew kampong that existed until 1984.
Lim Tua Tow Market and Simon Road Market were the two prominent wet markets along Upper Serangoon Road between the sixties and nineties.
Neo Tiew Market & Food Centre (1979-2002)
Like Neo Tiew Estate itself, the market and hawker centre are now in dilapidated states, having left abandoned for a decade. It was named after Chinese pioneer Neo Tiew (1883-1975), who contributed much to the development of old Lim Chu Kang.
When it was first set up, the market served mainly the little Neo Tiew Estate as well as the residents living at Lim Chu Kang, Ama Keng and other villages. It would later become a resting point and makan place for the army personnel from Sungei Gedong Camp during their booking-out.
Serving great char kway teow, carrot cake and wanton mee, the hawker centre remained a favourite but distant memory for many. The flats at Neo Tiew Estate were en-bloc and vacated in 2002. The empty premises is now being used as a training ground by the Singapore Armed Forces.
The little Dover estate with its market and hawker centre experienced the same fate as Neo Tiew, having shut down in 2011 due to the en-bloc program.
Labrador Villa Food Centre (1972-2008)
It was tiny, run-down and isolated, but Labrador Villa Food Centre was nothing but a gem for many who yearned old-time ambience with cheap authentic food.
Located at the junction of Alexandra Road and Pasir Panjang Road, the hawker centre with only 10 stalls, most of them selling Muslim cuisine, was popular among patrons working at the nearby factories and offices, hunting for their favourite mee goreng, nasi lemak or simply having an afternoon break with a glass of teh tarik.
Many expressed regret that the little hawker centre had to be demolished in 2008 to make way for the Labrador Park MRT Station and the development of Labrador Park into a seafood village.
MacPherson Road Market (1955-1990)
The MacPherson Road Market was completed in 1955 at the junction of Upper Serangoon Road and MacPherson Road to serve the 22,000 residents living at Sennett Estate and other nearby districts.
The market, with 200 stalls in its double-storey building, cost about $250,000. It was built by a local construction firm owned by Lim Kah Ngam, who was famous for his Federal House project at Kuala Lumpur.
In 1989, the land where the market was standing on was acquired by Lim Kah Ngam’s company for $2.1 million. The site was initially intended to be redeveloped for commercial and residential purposes. The first level of the market, however, was converted into a giant 24-hour kopitiam two years later, and the building renamed as Jackson Centre.
Lakeview Market & Food Centre (late 1970s-2000)
For almost 20 years, Lakeview Market & Food Centre remained a popular makan place for the residents living at Upper Thomson. The name Lakeview probably arose from the waterfront view of the nearby Macritchie Reservoir. At the same neighbourhood in the eighties also existed a row of HDB low-rise shops collectively known as Lake View Shopping Centre.
In 2000, the 168 stallholders had to shift when the hawker centre was demolished. After more than a decade of demolition, many loyal patrons are still missing and searching for the relocated stalls from Lakeview Food Centre that specialised in bak kut teh, duck rice, Hokkien mee, curry fish head, carrot cake, you zhar kway and other good food.
Today, only the old HUDC flats of Lakeview Estate and a few shops still carry the name Lakeview. As for the site of the former Lakeview Market & Food Centre, it remains an empty plot of land till this day.
Old Tekka Market (1915-1982)
After it was completed in 1915, the Old Tekka Market became a notable landmark at Little India. Originally called Kandang Kerbau (KK), the name means “buffalo pens” in Malay, and it actually referred to the cattle slaughtering houses at Serangoon in the early 20th century.
Its name was later changed to Tekka Pasar, a unique combination in a name that made up of Chinese dialect and Malay, similar to that of “kopitiam“. Tekka means “the foot of the bamboo” in Hokkien while Pasar is “market” in Malay.
In the seventies, there were many makeshift stalls lined up along Serangoon Road outside Tekka Market. The bustling place, selling almost all sort of basic necessities, was extremely popular among the housewives, and attracted a large mixture of Chinese, Malay and Indian customers.
In 1982, Old Tekka Market was torn down to make way for the construction and widening of the nearby roads. All the stallholders were relocated to the new double-storey Tekka Market, also known as Buffalo Road Market, situated opposite the former old market. The new building, which houses a wet market, a hawker centre and rows of retailer shops, continues to demonstrate the multicultural cohesiveness and harmonious relationship between the local races of Chinese, Malay and Indian.
An interesting trivia about Tekka happened in the eighties, when the authority decided to change its name to Zhujiao, the hanyu pinyin version of the name, in a bid to suit the Speak Mandarin Campaign. The change did not go well with the locals, especially the non-Chinese. It was later officially reverted back to Tekka in 2000. The same thing happened elsewhere in Singapore, where the names of Bukit Panjang, Nee Soon and Hock Lam were changed to Zhenghua, Yishun and Funan respectively.
Changi Market and Joo Chiat Market (1930s-1979)
The Changi Market and Joo Chiat Market co-existed side by side for several decades, including the harsh Japanese Occupation, before their demolition in 1979. Changi Market, built in the late 1930s, was facing the main Changi Road, while Joo Chiat Market, completed in the early 1930s, faced the inner Joo Chiat Road.
In 1964, Geylang Serai Market was officially opened just opposite the main road, forming a unique and huge concentration of stalls and shops at the busy junction of Changi Road, Geylang Road and Joo Chiat Road. It became the main source of fresh produce, groceries and provision for the local Malays and Chinese. During its heydays, rows of trishaw riders lined up along the roads to fetch the housewives with heavy purchases home to the kampong nearby.
In the sixties and seventies, Changi Market was plagued by several fire hazards. A fire in 1971 destroyed 30 shophouses beside the white office building of Changi Market, resulting in a loss of almost $600,000. Six years later, a large fire raged through another block of shophouses. Finally in 1979, the two markets were torn down with plans of residential development. By 1984, the $37-million Joo Chiat Complex and its three blocks of flats had occupied the former site of the two old markets.
Siglap Market (1945-1989)
Beside being a wet market selling poultry, fish and other fresh produce, Siglap Market, located at the junction of Siglap Road and East Coast Road, also had many hawker stalls that were once famous for their traditional Teochew mee pok and kway teow, carrot cake and nasi lemak.
During the Chinese New Year in 1962, a large fire occurred near Siglap Market. Caused by firecrackers, the fire quickly spread and destroyed 50 attap houses in the nearby kampong.
When Siglap Market was planned for closure in 1982, more than 200 vendors and hawkers rejected the compensation and held on to their stalls as a protest. The private market’s owner, Siglap Development Private Limited, could not reach a compromise with the stallholders, causing the case to drag on for years. It was not until late 1988 when the agreement between the company and the stallholders was reached, and Siglap Market finally closed for good on the first day of 1989.
The site of Siglap Market is now occupied by Siglap Centre.
Farrer Park Food Centre (1980-late 1990s)
Before the double-storey Farrer Park Food Centre was constructed in 1980, Northumberland Road was lined up with 20 food stalls with hundreds of customers slurping their food at the tables by the roadside. This scenario lasted for decades, enjoyed by football fans who could catch their teams playing at the Farrer Park Field while having delicious local delights.
A combination of factors such as hygiene, traffic congestion and open-air stalls, which were vulnerable to rains, prompted the authority to plan a hawker centre at Farrer Park. While the $1.6-million project was welcomed by many, others preferred the old way because the football fans could no longer able to watch their games and eat at the same time.
Farrer Park Food Centre was affected by the construction of the North-East MRT Line and had to make way in the late nineties. With its large selection of good food, it was missed by many. Beside wanton mee, rojak, chilli crab, fried carrot cake and other good food, there was a particularly famous stall that sold prawn noodles in pre-war Hokkien-style.
Ellenborough Market (1845-1968)
Named after Lord Ellenborough, Edward Law, also 1st Earl of Ellenborough and Governor-General of India (1841-1844), the market was built in 1845 near New Bridge Road by the Singapore River, serving as both a market and a trading post. The street it was situated on was also named as Ellenborough Street.
After a new cast-iron market was built in the late 1890s on the site of the original market, Ellenborough Market became known as the “New Market”, or “Pasar Bahru“, to the local Malays. Many Teochews moved in as hawkers to sell their food, and the market soon became well-known as the “Teochew Market”.
In early 1968, the market was destroyed in a large fire. More than a thousand hawkers lost their stalls. Ellenborough Market was never rebuilt or restored after that. It was left abandoned for a few years before being demolished in the early seventies. Meanwhile, Ellenborough Street survived till the nineties when it became defunct in the development of the Boat Quay area.
Clyde Terrace Market (1872-1983)
Built on reclaimed lands near the junction of Rochore Road and Beach Road, the Clyde Terrace Market, like Ellenborough Market, had been in existence for more than a hundred years.
Otherwise also known as Beach Road Market, the stalls at Clyde Terrace Market engaged in a wide variety of goods and fresh produce such as fish, chicken, fruits, vegetable and dried food. Its fish section was closed in the early seventies, replaced by the new Jurong Fishing Port and Central Fish Market. Other sections endured until June 1983, when the stallholders eventually moved to market at Pasir Panjang.
The Gateway, a 37-storey commercial building, now stands at the former site of Clyde Terrace Market.
Golden Bridge Food Centre (1973-2011)
It looks like one bulky overhead bridge on the outside, but internally, it once housed dozens of hawker stalls which enjoyed brisk business at Shenton Way on busy weekday afternoons.
When its 30-year lease expired in 2003, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) wanted to demolish the bridge and redevelop the area around MaCallum Street, but the plan was shelved for another couple of years. In early April 2011, the shops and hawker centre at Golden Bridge finally ended their businesses. Many stallholders, some of them had operated at Golden Bridge for some 30 years, had to look for other alternatives.
In late 2011, however, the Golden Bridge was reopened for food and beverage and retail businesses again, this time on a short-term three-year lease, with the monthly rental fees risen to more than $9,000. The plan to demolish the bridge was shelved once again, causing displeasure to many former tenants who felt that they should not be forced to move out in the first place.
Bukit Ho Swee Markets & Hawker Centre (1966-1980s)
After the squatter settlements at Bukit Ho Swee were destroyed by two fires in 1961 and 1968, the government embarked on a housing project to resettle the homeless residents.
A new Hawker Code was implemented in 1966 to control and license the street hawkers. Since the implementation, many street hawkers were relocated to markets and shophouses where water supply, electricity and refuse bins were provided.
During its rebuilding, Bukit Ho Swee was also involved in the relocating of street hawkers. Balloting of the stalls began as early as 1966, while the “hawker stalls’ centre” was officially opened three years later. The venue would become the predecessor of the Bukit Ho Swee Hawker Centre.
Beside having the venue for the hawkers to ply their trades, two wet markets were also established at Bukit Ho Swee. In 1979, one of the markets was renamed as Membina Barat Market. The market, together with the road Jalan Membina Barat where it was located, was later replaced by new HDB housing estates.
Some hawker centres do make a comeback.
Taman Serasi Hawker Centre, located at Cluny Road and reputed to serve the best Roti John in Singapore, returned in 2006, although it is now known as Taman Serasi Food Garden. It was demolished in 2004 as part of the redevelopment plans of Botanic Gardens.
Let’s hope in the future, the hawker centres can continue to provide us with our favourite delicious Singaporean food at affordable prices.
Anyone feeling hungry already?
Published: 27 August 2012
Updated: 16 May 2013
Whoa…. another walk down memory lane for me… Simon Road & Lim Tua Tow, both had great Hokkien Mee.. and I use to patronise a guy at Lim Tua Tow who set it up outside the market where he sat on a small stool and he would cook his food and had wooden cover to retain flavour/heat…and wrap it in that whitish/brown looking leave…best Hokkien mee… tekka market all that wonderfull ‘aroma’ …. and Glutton square a range of food which was out of this world … :))
And yes, you triggered my memory about the Orchard Road wet market….wah….
Thanks again for another great historical record…
does anyone know there is this tiny hawker center at central fire brigate along coleman street not hillstreet hawker center
Hi, i’m doing research on Glutton square and was wondering if you’d be willing to talk to me about you’re experience of the place 🙂
Hi there, could you email me? I would like to know more of your experience at Glutton’s Square for my project. =)
Oh…. wish we can place on record the Waterloo Street Indian Rojak and Sarabat stalls that were along that street…
yep, the waterloo st. indian rojak and mee goreng were the best in the world. i used to ride my scooter from bt.timah office just to eat there just ouside the fence of the sji school field. oh, what memories! ND YOU CAN JUST PARK YOUR VEHICLES BESIDES THE STALLS FREE,no nonsense like parking oupons or erp and all those other b.s. charges.life was so great then until govt spoilt everything. in name of progress???
Was this a place under a big ‘Flame of the Forest” tree adjacent to the then Public Library? If it was I remember in the 60s, many well dressed neck-tied execs & lawyers visiting during lunch hour
correct me if i am wrong. in the old old days, the hawkers will pass the food to you at your table, “self-service” was an alien concept.
I remember the membina barat market. It was built like the old maxwell market where not all the stalls are under shelter! There was a poultry stall selling live chicks then and it fascinates a lot to children, me included then. There was also a primary school nearby called Jia min primary. Too bad such markets are not preserve or built now. Most are too ‘modern looking’
Any food lovers knows the origin of mee pok?
It seems to be an unique product of Singapore, and cannot be found at elsewhere such as Malaysia, Hong Kong or Taiwan, unlike mee kia, kuay teow or yellow noodle
Great write-up as usual, but you miss out on Ellenborough Market.
Good suggestion… Have added it 😉
Found some pictures of the Golden Mile Hawker Centre (or commonly known as Army Market) and Newton Hawker Centre in the old days…
What is the name of the Food Centre under a Bridge?
I only know its near Toa Payoh or Thomson under a Bridge to Toa Payoh.
There firstname.lastname@example.org says: I grocery shopped at the Orchard Road Market from 1967 til 1979. Had a wonderful market man. Remember the elderly Chinese lady selling orchids on the ground floor who would shout as one came in, “Meng, Meng!” ? She had trouble saying, “Mem.” The Indian spice man near the orchid lady was great too. I loved that market.
Is this place a futsal park called Offside (http://www.offside.com.sg) now?
Oh yes, the hawker centre under Thomson Flyover
Photo Credit: Karen Lim (The Singapore Memory Project)
There was hill street , rasa singapura opposite Marcus polo Hotel.
Opposite old police academy . Under PIE . Gone ! Used to have a bowl of kambing soup after visiting the area before bus 154 near Catholic j c back in the 80s. Really nostalgia 💦
there used to be a Big market cum hawker centre in front of Beauty World at Bt Timah till late 80s i think. Now it moved opposite the road near shell station.
Was a small child then in the 70s, still remember sick and visit a clinic in the middle of the crowded wet market. On the upper bt timah Road side , wooden bridge old lorries unloading goods, those were the nostalgia time . Really remember.
This stall at the popular Maxwell Food Centre serves unique black pepper roast pork and chicken, quite unheard of at other hawker centres. Although this stall has been around for the last 12 years, few have actually talked about it.
Hello there, excellent story once again you have put togethere. If I could just ask: how do you know that Yuan Sheng (now Taman Jurong) was the first hawker center? Not heard of that before
Hi there, I’ve made a spelling mistake in the original article. It was Yung Sheng (永升熟食中心).
Have corrected it 😉
The info was extracted from here.
Thank you so much
It’s been 6 years since I last visited Singapore ( thanks to the GFC ). Until then 16 trips since 1989. Every time I returned, some of Singapore’s character had disappeared. My first Roti John was from a stall in the Botanical Gardens. Haven’t found a nicer one since. It’s refreshing to see that Singapore is not all McDonalds, KFC etc but so much of it’s down to earth feel is too quickly evaporating.
Had roti john there too . Place call taman serasi opposite botanical Garden. Right near corner of Cluny and tanglin Road. Had lunch ,short way from shatec at Nassim hill next to ANA Hotel back in early 90s. Nostalgia.
Oh . Forgot. The famous one grandfather no more but granddaughter continues at serangoo?! Search online found their stall.
A scene of street hawkers peddling their trades at Sago Street in the 1970s
(Photo Credit: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR))
In 2011, SingPost issued a set of stamps featuring Singapore’s four most iconic hawker centres, namely East Coast, Newton, Maxwell and Lau Pa Sat.
Hey, thanks for sharing with us those priceless photos, it bring back my memory,well well done!
And there’s the Hill Street Hawker Centre which was situated opposite Funan Centre? It was torn down sometime in the 90s (I think) but it’s still empty land right now.
And of course the Whitley Road Hawker Centre, which was under the Thomson flyover…
Does anyone remember the old Jalan Bahagia/ Jalan Tenteram market which has since made way for a carpark?
off topic but interesting read:
Tanglin Halt Hawker Centre, popular for its wanton mee and laksa, in the 70s and 80s
(Photo credit: http://myqueenstown.blogspot.sg/2010/08/tanglin-halt-hawker-centre.html)
Anyone recall a small hawker center right beside the Old National Library?
Yes, I remember a mid-aged lady sold one of the best wontan mee there!! Whenever it rained heavily, the floor would be very wet but that still did not deter the students from eating her wontan mee 🙂
It this the wontan mee you are referring to?
Not sure if that old madam is the same one 2 decades ago at NL but thanks for reminding this wonton mee stall at Far East Square, and the beef noodles there as well, I will find time to buy from them again 🙂
Hi not sure if the food court at Bedok MRT station is worthy to be in th above list. You might wanna check it out. Famous stores like Wak Din’s chicken rice and Inspirasi mee rebus. While you’re Bedok there is this florist that has been in business since 80’s; it’s located opposite NTUC.
A vintage photo of a mee pok stall 1970s
(Photo Credit: “Mee Pok” Golden Shoe Hawker Centre Level 3)
Do you guys missed out the one at Sembawang Road :D?
Oh yes! That’s the one! Opposite the Sembawang Police Station (If i recalled correctly)… my favourite Hua Seng Seafood selling sambal fish head and sotong..and Michael Kim’s hot plate seafood BBQ!!!!!
The roadside hawker stalls in the 1960s
This one was at Collyer Quay 1963
Singapore’s first privately-owned hawker centre, Kampung @Simpang Bedok, was officially opened yesterday (16 Feb 2013).
Will the hawker centres of Singapore move towards the operation model of social enterprise in the future?
looks like privatisation and social enterprise are not the best ways to run hawker centres with affordable food
07 Nov 2013
SINGAPORE: Singapore’s first hawker centre run by a social enterprise has closed down. Channel NewsAsia understands the enterprise – Best of Asia – had trouble financing the hawker centre.
There was great fanfare when Kampung at Simpang Bedok was officially opened in February this year, but business began to slow down in April. It is believed that the centre was handed back to the landlord last month. A former tenant said one of the reasons for slow traffic was that the hawker centre is located on the second level.
David James, partner at Gina’s Vadai, said: “We could not cover costs, we were running into big losses. I mean, the management itself was running into losses. They took on a huge responsibility, being in the private sector, to pay people to work.”
For food lovers who want to know more about the heritage of our local delights, check out http://www.tastesofyesteryear.com/
It has brief descriptions of bak kut teh, chicken rice, Indian rojak, laksa, char kway teow, etc 😉
Cheng Tng hawker icon dies after collapsing in Bedok stall
He was at his stall at Bedok Food Centre greeting the long line of customers with his usual “hello brother” and “hello sister” last Thursday. Then, well-known hawker Andrew Lim Seng Ann, 58, of Ye Lai Xiang Cheng Tng suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack. Madam Yang Hussain, in her 50s, who works at a stall opposite his, described what happened.
“We were preparing food, as usual, at our stall, which faces the cheng tng stall.
“Suddenly, I saw a commotion at the stall. I saw that Ann had fallen to the ground. It got very chaotic because there had been a long line of people queueing at his stall right when he collapsed.
“People started calling for an ambulance. Others carried him outside the centre, set him down and tried to revive him until the ambulance came, but it was no use.”
It was a tragic end to a man whose smile was something his customers looked forward to as much as the famous cheng tng he dished out. Unfortunately, customers will no longer be greeted with this familiar smile when they visit his stall.
Mr Lim’s stall served cheng tng, a sweet soup containing a variety of ingredients, and which can be served hot or cold. His comprised about 12 ingredients, including dried persimmon, barley, dried wintermelon, longan, sago, jelly, white fungus, barley, gingko nuts and sweet potatoes.
The recipe had been perfected by Mr Lim’s grandmother in 1939, when she first started selling the dessert in the Bedok area. The business was passed down to Mr Lim’s father in 1970, who set up a stall at Bedok Food Centre, which Mr Lim took over.
this is so very sad ! 😦 a simple happy father / husband / son just passed away like that, without preparation, without last words to his family… 😦 I’m sure he’s resting in God’s arms now.
Does anyone remember the 3 old Taman Jurong Hawker Ctrs?
Market 1, Market 2 and yung sheng food centre?
Yes sir. Gd food aplenty
Wonderful wonderful wonderful!!!
Bring back good old memories. So sad govt progress caused setbacks.
Hawker food have always been our Singaporean heritage.
When my family lived at Coleman street in the late 70s, I remember as a 9 year old, i used to look forward to Sunday mornings, because I would walk to the hawker centre in the car park next to Peninsula Plaza to buy chai poh for breakfast. It was also a pit stop for movie goers at the old Capitol theatre nearby. I must say that singapore has changed so much it’s can be unrecognisable at times.i loved reading your blog, it brought happy tears to my eyes. Keep up the good work!
Chwee Kueh not chai poh lol
I remember this old “push-cart”-like street hawker that sells Chai Tow Kuay along the pre-war houses opposite the current Tanjong Pagar Hawker Centre (somewhere around the current Tanjong Pagar MRT area). My dad used to buy me a packet of Chai Tow Kuay in the morning before I go to school in that vicinity. The best Chai Tow Kuay I’ve ever tasted, with all the carrot cake pieces cut in neat rectangular bits, unlike the mash you find at such stalls these days.
Anyone remember a hawker centre on the top floor of Marina Square?
Yes! Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee was there before they shifted to Crawford Lane! Memories….
Hi, Remember Rasa Singapura Food Centre, It use to have good Satay I think? Anyone has a better Photos? Or remember any famous food from here?
Long House site: Bought for $678,000, sold for $45.2m
The Straits Times
Published on Jan 09, 2014
LARGER than usual crowds thronged the popular Long House Food Centre yesterday after news emerged that the site had been sold for redevelopment. Many visitors were sorry to see the well-loved place go, but the family which has just sold the site in Upper Thomson Road is now sitting on a handsome profit.
This was all thanks to a shrewd move by the late Ng Aun Khim to buy the site more than 30 years ago.
The Ng family sold the 1,575.6 sq m site for $45.2 million – or $888 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio – to listed developer TEE Land on Tuesday. The property had been owned by the family’s firm Sin Hin Lee Investment.
The site was bought in 1980, said Mr Ng Choon Gim, 62, who oversees the business. His father had acquired it for just $678,000. That means its value has shot up 66-fold over 33 years.
TEE Land plans to redevelop it into a mixed-use project. It can house 30 to 38 residential units, averaging 1,000 sq ft each. About five to 10 commercial units measuring about 1,600 sq ft each can also be built, said deal broker Knight Frank. Residential units are expected to sell for about $1,500 psf, while commercial units should go for about $4,000 to $6,000 psf.
The site is about 500m from the Marymount MRT Station, and about 350m from the upcoming Upper Thomson Station. The site was owned earlier by oil giant Shell, which had a petrol station there in 1961. The late Mr Ng was the dealer who ran the petrol station for more than 20 years. “I still remember sleeping in there when I was in primary four, and I grew up there till I was 18 years old,” said his son. He recalled that it was surrounded by “kampung houses” with tombstones scattered about.
Shell scaled down its operations in 1979, downsizing the kiosk, which still stands at 183A Upper Thomson Road today.
The property has been home to many food establishments over the years. After the Ng family bought it, fast-food chain A&W asked to lease the site in 1980. It moved out after operating there for eight years. Then food court operator Kopitiam Group leased the premises for another two years. Long House moved there from Jalan Besar about 12 years ago, said Mr Ng junior. The food centre is famous for its prawn noodles, duck rice and goreng pisang. Hawkers said business has declined since parking fees were imposed a year ago.
News of the looming closure drew plenty of extra visitors. Mr Tan Ah Hui, 68, who runs Ah Hui Big Prawn Noodles at the centre, estimated that he had sold at least 100 bowls by 2.30pm, when The Straits Times visited. He has been serving the dish since 1963, and now plans to move to a coffee shop in Block 280, Bishan Street 24.
Ms Rose Le, 35, owner of Boon Pisang Goreng, said she has not looked for a new place but is not too worried about whether business will be hurt by a move. “Customers have been asking me not to move too far away,” she said. The stall sells about 500 pieces of goreng pisang a day.
The Ng family has other property investments in the Thomson area. Mr Ng junior said his brother owns the unit housing restaurant Liquid Kitchen at Yew Lian Park, while his cousins own three shops in the area.
“I have my father to thank for his foresight to buy the site at a historically low price,” he said.
I was wondering if anyone knows anything about the architecture of various hawker centres besides the unique ones such as Newton? Doing my dissertation on hawker culture and this page has been useful, but am looking for more information! If anyone knows anything, please drop me an email at email@example.com
I stumbled on this post after reading about Lavender Food Sq closing and am amazed by the body of research and images here. Great stuff worth sharing.
Pingback: Lavender food heaven closing for development | Everything Also Complain
My most favourite places to eat during the 10 years I lived there. Great food and the enthusiasm from all the people gathered around makes you want to eat! lol
Yes we went there everyday after school to have the best Rojak ever. Miss It So.oo.
Memories galore and a consequent revival in my love for the most delicious food I ever had. BUT my memories are from further back, mainly in the 50s, and again in the 70s. The hawkers who came round in the evenings with simple equipment calling out their presence and cooked on the spot wonderful flavours. The food centres with so many choices to make.
Sadly I am so far away in UK and unlikely to return, but I can still dream.
My nieces and sister in law try to keep me up to date, but the internet can’t replace experience.
This is a long ago article on long ago places which current generations n future generations will never get to experience. I’m a 70s kid growing up in the jln tenteram area and I noticed someone posting and asking about the hawker at jln tenteram….. just wondering if anyone has a photo/s of the place. Searched through my childhood photo albums and alas….nothing on it.
Alvin, Jalan Tenteram and Queestown market/food centre as identical. The food centre building had become a shopping place.
Jalan Teneram Hawker Centre and Queenstown Hawker Centre were identical. The Cantonese called it ‘coffin market’ because of its shape. Click to see picture http://pchew-nostalgia.blogspot.com/search/label/My%20Queenstown%20Heritage%20Trails
Good old days of Singapore. Bring back memories.
Great read. I used to visit Singapore as a sailor and berth at Sembawang. I’ve been trying to recall a very small hawker centre up in the Admiralty Rd/Sembawang Dr area. It might have even been over in Woodlands somewhere. A long walk from the Basin but more likely a taxi. We used to eat regularly at Chong Pang, Yishun, Nee Soon, and Sembawang village. Can anyone recall this centre?
That should be the old chong pang food centre, attached behind is the wet market that operated in the early morning… the BBQ hotplate stingray and sotong, the western food, the sambal fish head and “chuchu”, etc…
I think time to add Long House, Lavender Food Square and maybe soon Golden Mile Food Centre to this list. Many hawker centre leases expire within these few years. Let’s see how many of them will fade into history.
Thank you very much for a great article it brings back memories of time gone by. Left Singapore in 1960 and only return in 1988 what a dramatic change. I now visit Singapore every few years but every time The Chinese hawkers food don’t taste the same, specially those cooked by Mainland Chinese. The quality and taste of Malay food seem to remain constant perhaps this was due to the understanding of the use of the ingredients used in its cooking. A food as simple as Hainanese Chicken rice today don’t taste as when Swie Kee at Middle Road first serves it. Bernard from Vancouver BC
Super duper photos for my collection.
Two thumbs up for you.
I think you guys left out the hawker centre several floors up in the building now rebuilt as Raffles Medical Hospital opposite Landmark Hotel..I cannot recall the name it went by. It was famous for Bak Kut Teh or Kway Chap one of these two.
That is Blanco Court food centre
Those Old Hawker Stalls and Stands offer a nostalgia look at the Progress of the East Asian and South Asian Diaspora of the Chinese and Indian people who embarked onto Singapore for a better future of beiing better fed and usefully employed within the larger Economic Ventures of the British White Raj and their followers,from this potpourri Singapore got a better tomorrow with Independence with the PAP stalwart leadership, with almost a Prime Minister of the Labour Front Iranian Jew David Saul Marshall a British Barrister !Democracy being the Rule of de Majority nevertheless made Chinese Singaporean Lee Kuan Yew into it early founding father that actually seemed moulded to the Master Kung Fu Tze Confucius Ethos of Benevolent Government with scholarly meritocracy as a guidepost ! The hungry ,the landless,the poor orphans from China and India became the labourers,hawkers and coolies of the British but with majullah Singapura Independence, they became the voters and choice makers of a new dawn of local leadership ! Not bad for Singapore after 150 to 200 years of Colonial Governance and Economic Venture ! Majullah Singapura , bukan Mahjjong Lah Singapura ! Today in this day and age of the 21st.century Singapore is not just a red dot but a New York City or a London UK ! Bravo ! The First and de Last Hurrah !
Gerald Heng Sr.
metrowest Boston,MA/Washington DC..USA.
Seletar Hill Market food stall enjoy since (young 80’s) lost and finally found
Sin Poh Cheng Prawn Noodle
Close every Wed
Blk 529 Hougang Ave 6
Tel 9749 5083
She also told me old time Seletar Hill Market Bak kut Teh stall moved to Blk 105 Hougang Ave 1/ Lorong Ah Soo
Remember some of the places especially, the Orchard Road one. Used to go there with my, then, girl friend. Brings back so much memeories. These photographs are priceless !!! Many thanks.
5 famous Singapore food feuds
Aug 2, 2014
1. Hock Lam Street beef kway teow (beef noodles)
In short: Brothers Anthony and Francis Tan both claimed they were the true successors of the famous Hock Lam Street beef kway teow.
2. Tai Hwa bak chor mee (minced meat noodles)
In short: Mr Tang Chay Seng, owner of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane, took his nephew Arthur Tung to court for trying to pass off his stall, Lau Dai Hua, as the original.
3. Katong laksa
In short: Katong laksa was popularised by brothers Ng Juat Swee and Ng Chwee Seng, who started selling the noodles in a coffee shop in East Coast Road in 1963. Four rivals had popped up along the same stretch of East Coast Road by 1999, and many of them had names with “Katong Laksa” in it.
4. Rochor beancurd
In short: The Rochor beancurd war is a tale of bitter business rivalry among the Koh siblings. It began in the 1960s when their parents peddled tau huay, a beancurd custard, from a pushcart in the Rochor and Beach Road areas. After their father died in 1986, the stall had shop units in Selegie Road and Middle Road before settling in Short Street in 1998. Disputes over control of the family business, however, saw the siblings set up their own stalls.
5. Siglap mee pok (flat yellow noodles)
In short: At the centre of this war is 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee, started by Mr Chan Sek Inn at the old Siglap market in the 1970s. Four hawkers were plying their noodle business within a few kilometres from each other. Each stall claimed to be independent, yet all were seemingly associated by name or ownership.
Thank You for bringing back fond memories of yesteryear markets, food stalls and others.
I recalled all the places as shown, and did patronise most of the places. The photos shown – did not include Killiney Road Market, Koek Road,Koek Lane food stalls ( whch house the famous
Hainanese Curry/Economic Rice stalls, Chicken Rice, Satay Bee Hoon, Teck Kee Pau, Lim Kee Goreng Pisang, the Original Old Chang Kee pioneer delicious curry puffs,
To all presenters – Singaporean are much indebted to all of you for bring back the fond memories.
The koek road satay bee hoon with the lok lok style in the early 70, miss the hainanese pork chop rice, do you know where they shifted .
The Nostalgia and Aide Memoirs of the modest hawker centers of that by-gone era of the newly independent Sri Temasek Singapore is indeed very touching and heart-warming yet like most matters of a nostalgia epoch the intimate stories of the hawkers and working people in these centers of the East / South Asian Diaspora are lost to posterity by their passing on quietly in whimpers unheard, unsung and unseen ! what would such hawker centers be without hearts, minds and souls of those hawking beings supplying much needed cuisine at an affordable price ?
May the Blessings of Life, & de hereafter ,of Liberty and Joy be with de hawking working people who provide a much needed community service ! May those dearly departed have the everlasting graces for what they have provided in their grace time and effort in their lifetime here on earth !
Gerald c w Heng Sr.
Metrowest Boston,MA/Washingtone DC USA
Very well said but how many of today’s generation feels this way about what hawkers may have contribute to their life..The ‘kai-sui’ generation of todays Singapore will only think of themselves and little consideration for others. Many even treat their foreign home help like slaves, someone to order around. Like the boy who needed his maid to carry his pack to camp when reporting for national service. What kind of wimp is that? Singapore is changing for the worst.
Bernard C. Law
Vancouver BC Canada
Hey Cardinal Bernard Law of Vancouver ( our Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston is in service to the Holy See Vatican, Rome) I agree with your valuable passionate and touching comments ,like you I feel Singaporeans of de current generation after the Economic Progress of from de third got de first world ,require an education in EQ and SQ i.e. emotional and social Intelligience in relating to our Singaporeans of the Diaspora Pioneering generation ! Majullah Singapura bukan Mahjong Lah Sri Temasek ! Then again how many of us can have good luck of having Premier Lee Hsien-Loong ‘s parents? All the more reason to have EQ and SQ, IQ solely and sorely just robotics ! The Hungry Homeless Orphan and Nationless generation was indeed our Pioneering Generation ! Hola Menang Manusia !
Gerald c-w Heng Sr.
Metrowest Boston,MA/Washingtone DC USA.
As a born-Katong resident, I try to find the old photos of the old Katong wet market and Old Airport wet market that I remember, when I was young to be with my mother. But these old photos are found nowhere. 😦
Anyone, do you remember both of them?
Oh, I almost forget to tell you that the old Katong wet market was replaced by Katong mall and then the present I12 Katong.
do u know there is a hawker center opposite funan center, but is not hill street hawker center, it is at the fire brigate going towards ROM
Ooi hold yr horses !! what about china town old people’s park food centre, yeah the open air one, rows and rows of sheds, right next to the big drain in the 1950’s or earlier ?? or am i too old ??? the first hawker centre in Singapore perhaps ?
One is never too old, We are like ginger the older the hotter. Yes. I remember the place you are talking about. My favorite ‘yong tu-fu is the Hakka Store on the right side from Majestic Theatre entrance, the chillie sauce is unique. Where in Singapore today can you get Hakka yong-tu-fu? Remember Wayang Street and the store that sells only cold jellied wild boar and shark? Missed that too.
Bernard. Vancouver BC
Love, love , love this blog. Straying slightly from all the wonderful food courts, I’m wondering if I can ask if anyone remembers The Gap, slightly northeast of Bukit Timah, a bit of an expat hangout back in the day, battered tiger prawns, Gunners and the Hully Gully man? I’m not sure what it is now, probably been developed, but I’m trying to find the hill it was on ! and two restaurants, probably long gone on the waters edge near Pasir Panjang, one named Paradise and the other The Seaside. I’m talking about back in 1966-1970??
Thanks to you Presenter – bring back fond memories of the yesteryear markets and hawker stalls.
Orchard Road Car Park Hawker Area – was converted as a Make Shift Hawker Centre just opposite the old Cold Storage Supermarket and Cold Storage Cremeries.
Most of the Hawker was rellocated from Koek Road, Koek Lane, Killiney Road Market
and from some adjacent neighbourhoods.
The Presenter have left out the most famous Cooked food area – Koek Road and Koek Lane.
The vendors along here originated many famous dishes ie Ice Kachang ( Good Wind Coffee Shop) Lim Kee Goreng Pisang, Teck Kee Pau, the famous Hokkien Mee, Satay Bee-hoon,
Indian Mee Goreng, Mutton./Kembing soup, Beef Noodles, the famous Teochew Fried Kway Teow
and last but not least – Koek Lane was home to the famous Chang Kee Curry Puff. The few coffee
shop along Koek Lane – this is where the original Economic Rice , Hainanese Chicken/Beef Curry
Chicken Rice, Chicken Rice Ball. , Bak Chor Mee, Fried Oyster, Cheng Tng, etc. etc.
By nitefall – a few Malay vendors will bring on their Mee Rebus, Satay,
Indian Rojak – the Indian gentleman plys along Dhoby Guat ( Near by the Stamford Canal ) will
back carries his make shift stall to the corner of Koek Road/Orchard Road ( Orchard Rd Market).
Orchard Road Market is a market patronise by British Serviceman and Businessman. .
you could almost smell the delicious fried orh luak (oyster omelette). c1970s
(Photo credit: Facebook Group “Nostalgic Singapore”)
Thanks for posting the picture and the write-ups of the old Siglap market , I was a former resident of Siglap from 1980.
In 1970 I lived in Alexandra Avenue opposite the British Military Hospital. Just down the road was a roundabout called Rumba Bomba Circus, not sure if I’ve spelt that correctly, which had a brilliant night / hawkers market.
1960年代后期，政府为了能更好管制小贩的清洁与卫生，开始分发小贩执照。1972年，为让流动小贩拥有固定摊位，政府设立本地第一个小贩中心，位于永升路（Yung Sheng Road）的永升小贩中心，俗称“六十档”。
Beautiful photos of the previous Tiong Bahru Market in 2004:
$17.5m offer to buy decades-old Beauty World Food Centre
16 April 2016
The Straits Times
A mystery buyer has offered $17.5 million for the ageing Beauty World Food Centre in Bukit Timah. The sum was offered by investors through real estate agency PropNex, whose spokesman told The Straits Times that the final amount is still being negotiated.
The figure was reported by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao yesterday, but PropNex declined to name the buyer. If the sale is confirmed, the new operator could redevelop the outdoor hawker centre, located on the fourth floor of Beauty World Centre, into an air-conditioned food court.
Many stallholders have agreed to sell their stalls as they are growing old and their children have no interest in taking over the business. One of them, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Goh and is in her 70s, has been running a fruit and drinks stall at the food centre for 30 years.
“I am planning to retire. I am getting old,” she said in Mandarin.
Mrs Chua Yow Ngoo, 61, who sells hokkien mee and char kway teow, is also likely to pull down the shutters in about a year’s time.
Mrs Chua, who has run the stall with her husband for about 30 years, has sold their unit for $500,000. But the couple have no plans to retire. “I want to open shop in a school canteen so I can rest more on weekends and school holidays,” she said.
Built in the 1980s, the Beauty World Food Centre houses a total of 41 hawker stalls, many of which used to operate at the old wet market nearby.
Stall owners said they were notified shortly after the new year that investors planned to buy the facility. In recent years, several major coffee shop chains have also expressed interest in buying the centre, but could not agree on a price, Zaobao reported. Hawkers have sent a representative to talk to the buyer.
Those who wish to continue doing business at the site will have to rent a space from the new operator. Some are already searching for new locations.
I used to work in OCBC bank in 1978. During lunch time i love to patronise this particular Malay stall at Boat Quay (rite behind Std Chartered bank). This stall were manned by 3 fat Malay makchi. The Queue was always very long. I really miss their food. If any kind souls know the whereabout of this stall, kindly email me. Many many thanks.
Singapore’s hawker culture added to Unesco list of intangible cultural heritage
17 December 2020
The Straits Times
Hawker culture in Singapore has been officially added to the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
In virtual proceedings that took place on Wednesday night (Dec 16), a 24-member international committee unanimously accepted Singapore’s application.
The process took all of three minutes, after nearly three years of work by the National Heritage Board, the National Environment Agency and the Federation of Merchants’ Associations. As Singapore’s application fulfilled all criteria, it was decided that there was no need for debate on it at the 15th session of the intergovernmental committee.
The successful nomination means Singapore now has its first item on the intangible cultural heritage list, which currently has 463 entries including yoga in India and Belgian beer.
It is also the country’s second entry to any Unesco list. The first came in 2015 when the Singapore Botanic Gardens was designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, in a pre-recorded video, gave short remarks to the international audience on the historic occasion on Wednesday, following the announcement of the official result.
Speaking to representatives from 117 states and non-governmental organisations, he said: “Singapore’s hawker culture is a source of pride for Singapore and all Singaporeans. It reflects our living heritage and multiculturalism, and is an integral part of the daily lives of everyone in Singapore regardless of age, race or background.
“I thank all our hawkers and Singaporeans for their overwhelming support of this nomination… We pledge to do our part to safeguard our intangible cultural heritage.”
Having hawker culture on the list commits Singapore to protecting and promoting it. The country will have to submit a report every six years to Unesco, showing the efforts made to safeguard and transmit hawker culture to future generations.
Both President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took to Facebook to thank those involved in the nomination process.
Madam Halimah said hawker culture has shaped Singaporean identity in many ways, and contributed to the diversity of Singapore’s multicultural society.
Mr Lee said the nomination journey had been a fruitful one. “The biggest thanks must go to the generations of hawkers for nourishing a nation’s stomach and spirits. This recognition would not have come without their sweat, toil and dedication to their profession,” he said.
Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, president of the Federation of Merchants’ Associations (FMAS), which, together with the National Heritage Board and the National Environment Agency helmed the Unesco application, said the result will give hawkers’ prestige a boost, both locally and internationally.
He said: “For our hawkers, it is a recognition of their dedication to perfecting their craft and their contribution to Singapore’s rich food heritage. FMAS will continue to work with the authorities to look into ways to rejuvenate and sustain the hawker trade, and safeguard our hawker culture.”
The development is timely for the hawker sector here, which has in recent years found it difficult to attract young people to a trade that calls for 16-hour work days in hot, cramped stalls.
The authorities have sought, through traineeship programmes and monetary subsidies, to lower the barriers to entry for young aspiring hawkers. Since 2013, the median age for new entrants has been lowered to 46, although the overall median age for hawkers nationwide remains 59.
Singapore’s submission – Hawker Culture In Singapore: Community Dining And Culinary Practices In A Multicultural Urban Context – was made in March last year, although preparations began earlier, in February 2018.
To celebrate the global recognition, the authorities said a three-week SG HawkerFest will be launched on Dec 26.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, activities will mostly take place online. These include online treasure hunts and quizzes that can be completed and then used to redeem vouchers that can be used at 29 participating hawker centres.
Singapore’s Unesco journey
Singapore ratifies the 2003 Unesco Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, as part of the country’s first masterplan for the heritage and museum sector. Signing the convention allows Singapore to nominate items to the Unesco list for intangible cultural heritage and signals the country’s commitment to safeguarding its living cultures.
The National Heritage Board, together with Singaporeans, generates an intangible cultural heritage inventory of more than 50 items. These are possible nominations to the list, and include getai, pilgrimages to Kusu Island and hawker culture.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announces in his National Day Rally speech that Singapore will be nominating hawker culture to the Unesco list, calling hawker centres Singapore’s “community dining rooms”.
Singapore submits the nomination documents to Unesco for consideration. The application includes a form, a 10-minute video and 10 photos depicting hawker culture.
A 12-member evaluation body comprising experts on intangible cultural heritage gives glowing reviews of Singapore’s application. It recommends that the intergovernmental committee, which will make the final decision, inscribe hawker culture on the list.
The intergovernmental committee unanimously accepts the addition of hawker culture in Singapore to the Unesco list. Singapore will submit a report once every six years to Unesco to document how it has been ensuring hawker culture’s survival.
Pig blood: Why and when was it banned in Singapore?
24 May 2021
You might have eaten it in Taiwan’s night markets, as blood sausages in the United Kingdom or even remember having it here in your pig’s organ soup as a child – but this is not food for the faint-hearted.
While animal blood is a fairly common ingredient in many cuisines around the world, it is banned for consumption in Singapore.
On Wednesday (May 19), the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) commenced investigations against a Thai restaurant at Golden Mile Tower for the illegal sale and possession for sale of animal blood curd.
During the operation, authorities found the restaurant selling a dish containing pig blood curd. They also seized unsold pre-packed pig blood.
“Animal blood food products, such as pig’s blood, are prohibited in Singapore as blood can easily support the growth of bacteria and harbour diseases,” wrote SFA in Wednesday’s press release.
“Unhygienic harvesting of blood can also result in the introduction of food borne pathogens into blood food products.”
The agency cautioned against illegally imported food, as they are of unknown source and can pose a food safety risk.
“In Singapore, food imports must meet SFA’s requirements. Food can only be imported by licensed importers, and every consignment must be declared and accompanied with a valid import permit,” the agency said.
After SFA’s announcement on the seizure, many people recalled on social media having eaten pig blood before, with some wondering why and when it was banned locally.
THE NIPAH OUTBREAK
In response to CNA’s queries, SFA said the then Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) banned the collection of pig blood from Singapore’s local abattoir during the Nipah virus outbreak in 1999.
This was because blood was a potential source and mode of transmission for viruses and other food-borne pathogens, the spokesperson said.
Since then, Singapore’s abattoir has not supplied pig blood and SFA has not accredited any sources of pig blood for import into the country, the spokesperson added.
The National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) said on its website that the first human cases of the Nipah virus occurred between September 1998 and June 1999 in Malaysia and Singapore, with no new cases reported in either country since then.
According to Singapore Infopedia, which is run by the National Library Board (NLB), the outbreak in Singapore was initially thought to be the mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis virus.
However, infections in Malaysia occurred among those who had close contact with swine.
Following which, the authorities took “immediate measures” to prevent the introduction of the virus to Singapore, including the suspension of live pig imports from affected farms in Malaysia, increasing the frequency of fogging and spraying larvicides to destroy mosquitoes.
All abattoir workers and pig traders in Singapore were also ordered to go for checkups.
Eleven people in Singapore were infected by the virus, with one death.
The Nipah virus causes inflammation in the brain and transmission occurs through direct contact with infected pigs, bats or people.
Under Singapore’s Wholesome Meat and Fish Act, anyone guilty of illegal importing and selling pig blood products could be fined up to S$50,000 or imprisoned for up to two years, or both.
On subsequent convictions, they may be fined up to S$100,000, imprisoned for up to three years, or both.
It is the first hawker centre built without a wet market, and designed with a garden setting that complemented Singapore’s “garden city” image. Upgraded in 2016, it was once the second most popular eating place in Singapore, after Telok Ayer food centre at the time. Recently, it was also featured in a film about Crazy Rich Asians.
(Source: Ministry of Sustainability and Environment, Photo Credit: National Heritage Board)