Hawkers – A Work in Progress

Singapore is a modern multiethnic country located at the heart of Southeast Asia. The small island just 52km across is home to a population of five million people. It has four official languages which reflect the countries four founding ethnicities, English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay. Since independence from Britain in 1965, Singapore has grown to be one of the wealthiest countries in the region. Singapore’s success is due in part to its unique social structure which encourages inclusivity and tolerance within communities of different faiths and beliefs.

Singaporeans love food. Eating, or Makan, is such a huge part of life in Singapore that it is considered the national obsession. Fortunately there is such a wide variety of food that there is no shortage of new dishes to discover. Hawkers centres, or ‘eating houses’ are the preferred destination for all Singaporeans. In the 1960s in order to improve public health and hygiene standards the Singapore government made the decision to move street food venders, known as Hawkers, into newly built food centres with running water, proper drainage and electricity. Hawkers centres serving an enormous variety of food are found throughout Singapore. Hawkers have become such an integral part of Singaporean culture that some residential apartments forego the inconveniences of ovens completely. No matter which ethnicity, faith or social economic status, everyone has a favourite dish served up by a smiling Auntie or Uncle down at the local Hawkers.