The Independent S'pore retracts articles alleging hawker died after working 18-hour days to avoid NTUC Foodfare fine

TISG was satisfied with the clarification they got from NTUC Foodfare.

Jonathan Lim| March 02, 03:55 PM

Socio-political website The Independent Singapore (TISG) published a retraction notice on March 1, 2019 informing readers that it has taken down two articles.

The articles in question were both related to NTUC Foodfare.

The two articles were:

  1. Elderly hawker allegedly passed away after working 18-hour days to avoid hefty fine when NTUC Foodfare rejected appeal to shorten operating hours
  2. NTUC Foodfare slaps $3500 fine on elderly and injured tenant who was unable to operate for a few days

Both articles were published on Nov. 19, 2018 and were related to a food court run by NTUC Foodfare at Changi Airport's Terminal 4.

TISG said that the "facts in the articles were not as what we were led to believe" and they clarified the facts with NTUC Foodfare.

TISG said it was "satisfied" that the food court operator did not operate in the manner implied in the articles, and specifically, NTUC Foodfare "did not cause the death of any elderly stall operator nor forced him to work 18-hour days."


After the two articles were published on Nov. 19, 2018, NTUC Foodfare told the media that the articles were "inaccurate and misleading" and that TISG had not reached out to them for clarification before publishing the articles.

On Nov. 21, 2018, TISG announced it was being sued by NTUC Foodfare and its publisher Kumaran Pillai said then that taking the articles down would be the "easy way out", but said it was giving "voice to the voiceless" in running stories like the two articles.

NTUC Foodfare also shared two Facebook posts that gave more details and context to the two articles that TISG produced.

Injured stallholder fined S$3,500 not really the stallholder

Mothership also reached out to the tenant who faced the S$3,500 fine for not keeping the stall open during stipulated hours.

The injured "tenant" mentioned in the TISG article was not the one who signed a stallholder contract with NTUC Foodfare, but rather the father of the licensee whose surname is Tan.

Tan's father was also the only person able to cook at the stall, which had a total of four workers.

He could not continue cooking after suffering a fracture to his foot.

NTUC Foodfare's stance on the matter was that while they understood that Tan’s father required rest, they did not stipulate that her father had to be the one operating the stall.

The spokesperson said given that Tan also operated other stalls in other locations with hired help, it was up to her to fulfill her contractual obligation by managing her manpower needs.

For a fuller picture on this, read our previous article on the dispute: