MCI & MSE to help more hawkers go on digital delivery platforms: Josephine Teo

To help them weather the impacts of the pandemic.

Guan Zhen Tan | June 05, 2021, 05:45 PM

Minister of Communications and Information (MCI) Josephine Teo announced in a Facebook post (June 5) that she has asked Minister of State Tan Kiat How to "help our hawkers get onto online delivery platforms".

Her post also addressed a June. 4 Straits Times commentary by its associate editor Chua Mui Hoong, who wrote about the ground-up efforts to garner support for hawker stalls impacted by Phase 2: Heightened Alert.

These efforts include group buys, apps, Facebook lives and other actions by volunteers and members of the public.

Support for hawkers beyond ground-up efforts

However, Chua asked where the “state, the government agencies, the big boys” were in these efforts, along with what is being done to help hawkers survive the pandemic and reach out to their customers as more turn to online food delivery services.

In her post, Teo said that Chua's piece “mirrored the thoughts among MCI colleagues”.

She mentioned that while some hawkers were initially hesitant, 60 per cent of 18,000 stallholders in Singapore now offer SGQR e-payment under the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) Hawkers Go Digital effort.

Teo observed that a new eating lifestyle has presented a new set of challenges to the hawkers.

However, she believes that these challenges - including more staying home and ordering food online - can be overcome, citing the incentives given for hawkers to get on board food delivery platforms.

Helping more hawkers go online

As an added push to organise efforts, Teo said she has asked Tan to help hawkers get onto online delivery platforms.

Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) Amy Khor will work with Tan to bring in key partners to assist with this effort.

In response to Teo’s post, Khor said that she is happy to work with Tan to further encourage more hawkers to adopt food delivery services.

Khor noted that hawkers have begun tapping onto the trend of going online for deliveries.

She states that over 1,300 hawkers have taken up NEA’s S$500 cant to adopt food delivery services, along with other initiatives by IMDA and Enterprise Singapore.

She also highlighted actions by several parties to provide assistance, such as the waiver of stall rentals by half in May and June for 6,000 cooked food stallholders in hawker centres managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators.

100 per cent of fees for table-cleaning and centralised dishwashing services for cooked food stallholders have been subsidised as well.

Digital ambassadors on the ground

Tan’s post on Facebook echoed much of Teo’s sentiments.

He noted that Singapore’s hawkers are “adaptable and resilient” and going online to provide a takeaway option is their next step in their digital transformation journey.

He mentioned that he intends to, with Khor, rope in public and private partners to explore ideas to help hawkers better transition to using online delivery and e-ordering platforms.

Both Khor and Tan implored hawkers and their supporters to encourage them to reach out to any of the 1000 digital ambassadors on the ground, or call their hotline at 6377 3800, for assistance to go online.

They also asked for the public support of our hawker culture and favourite hawkers.

“One dabao and a kind word will mean so much to them and their business”, Teo said.

Top image via Tan Kiat How and Amy Khor's Facebook page