Once upon a time, hawkers were given licences on the basis they need to make a living in spite of their lack of education or better paying skills. For the rest of us, they provide a source of cheap meals. Those who can afford the XO Sauce know where else to head to. And good riddance to them.
Along the way, “entrepreneurs” have come into the picture, making money by subletting, or turning hawker outlets into restaurant chains. Food courts now boast exotic cuisine, rivalling the seafood prices at tourist trap Newton Circus.
Here's the worry factor: NTUC Foodfare CEO Perry Ong, who is also in the same panel chaired by Ms Chew, is already eyeing the profit opportunity, “if the Government feels we could potentially add value or possibly co-run it, we will be happy to consider it.” NTUC was originally mandated as a co-operative to provide affordable groceries for the general population. Nowadays, penny pinching housewives head for Giant or Sheng Siong to stretch their dollar. Unless you are keen on fresh air flown oysters from New Zealand on sale at upmarket NTUC Finest, which aims at “bringing the fine life closer to shoppers”. You can probably pick up the XO Sauce there.