'If you eat out a lot, please patronise these silent sufferers': KF Seetoh on hawkers at risk of their stalls closing

Not online and burdened by costs, the permanent closure of hawkers is inevitable, Seetoh said.

Fiona Tan | May 20, 2021, 11:59 PM

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Makansutra founder KF Seetoh highlighted the plight of hawkers in Singapore unable to stay afloat and at risk of permanent closure in a Facebook post on May 18.

Incurring losses

Singapore's Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures were announced on May 14.

New measures such as restrictions on dining in and work from home (WFH) as a default, kicked in on May 16 and will end on Jun. 13.

Since the start of Phase 2, food establishments have reported a significant reduction in customers, according to 8 Days.

At the same time some hawkers not able to bring their businesses online or adopt delivery options to cater to Singaporeans who choose to order in.

In his post, Seetoh went on to say that hawkers are struggling to stay afloat and risk permanent closure.

He also said to keep their stalls afloat, there needs to be more than just rental rebates.

There needs to be customers.

Fewer patrons

Since the start of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), less footfall has been observed in typically crowded places, like the streets and shopping malls lining the Orchard Road stretch and VivoCity.

The hawkers in town are hit even harder than the ones around your neighbourhood, Seetoh pointed out.

Emptier offices have led to less crowds.

Amoy Street Food Centre on 18 May. Image by Karen Lui.

Difficulty pivoting online

To adapt, tech-savvy hawkers and food businesses have brought their businesses online, there are quite a few examples of these on Facebook groups such as Hawkers United - Dabao 2020 and Can Eat! Hawker Food,

However, hawkers who are unable to pivot online face a serious disadvantage.

One Facebook user shared how difficult it was for her illiterate parents to take orders from delivery platforms.

That was one of the hawkers highlighted in the aforementioned 8 Days article, other barriers to digitalising raised by some hawkers include logistical issues.


In his post, Seetoh urged the public to patronise these "silent sufferers" who "need help".

He added that these hawkers, while "cranky", will appreciate the patrons "deep down inside".

"Remember, they fed generations of Singaporeans, often they went unappreciated."

Seetoh also encouraged people to be grateful to delivery riders and drivers:

"It's free to simply say 'thank you bro (sis). i really appreciate your work.', it won't kill you and they dont have to take breaks just to cry or ponder about entitled people in society.

If you are too proud to thank them, at least leave a note at the door 'Thank you my hard working delivery people. I am safe at home today because you took that trip for me. I appreciate you.' or something like that."

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Top image by Karen Lui