Hawker centres are a common sight in Singapore, and they have become part and parcel of life for most Singaporeans. These food centres are conveniently located near public housing estates or transport hubs to serve the residents and commuters alike. They are often said to be highly symbolic of the Singapore lifestyle and culture, some citing it as a meeting place for social interaction and family bonding.
Stalls in hawker centres sell a wide variety of food, keeping prices low to attract more customers. In fact, one can easily find hidden treasures in the form of high-quality food at these places, with some highly recommended by television programmes. Unlike food courts, these hawker centres are not air-conditioned. Over the years, efforts have been made to enhance the aesthetics and ventilation.
Today, Singapore Post has released four stamps of 80 cents each, featuring the illustrations of East Coast Lagoon Hawker Centre, Newton Food Centre, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre and the Lau Pa Sat. These stamps were jointly designed by Leon Yeo and Jean Ng.
In the 19th century, hawkers of the various ethnic groups started selling food along streets due to its low starting capital. They slowly grew in numbers, Patrons often purchase from these makeshift stalls out of convenience. The high unemployment resulted from the Second World War has led to the surge in the number of hawkers. Concerns about the hygiene of the food were raised in the late 1960s, leading to the introduction of policies to curb the growth of these street hawkers. In 1971, the government started building hawker centres to relocate these street hawkers into a more hygienic environment. By the mid 1980s, over 140 hawker centres were built across the country. In 2001, the Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme was introduced to enhance facilities. While maintaining the unique flavours of these iconic structures, improvements have been made to give them a new lease of life.
Adapted from article by Singapore Post, Images by Singapore Post