Give illegal hawkers a chance to make honest living

SINGAPORE - I sympathise with the food hawkers who continue to ply their trade despite being fined ("Complaints rising against illegal food hawkers"; Tuesday).

Are there any statistics to show how many people have suffered food poisoning after consuming food from unlicensed hawkers?

If the authorities feel that these hawkers' food is not prepared in accordance with proper hygiene procedures or has not undergone quality control checks, perhaps they could send these hawkers for food hygiene courses or do random quality checks on their food.

I propose that the National Environment Agency give such Singaporean hawkers a chance to make an honest living, by giving them a licence to peddle their wares, just like how some seniors are allowed to sell ice cream along Orchard Road and in parks.

I believe some unlicensed hawkers are truly unable to find jobs, for various reasons. It is good that they do not steal or peddle drugs.

I admire their strong determination and perseverance in wanting to make a living on their own, instead of depending on government assistance and handouts.

Instead of playing a cat and mouse game, why not legalise their trade in a way that is acceptable to the public?

Allocating designated spots for them to ply their trade will make routine checks easier.

The smell of fresh and piping hot chestnuts sold by street hawkers reminds me of my childhood days, when my father would buy roasted chestnuts from these hawkers.

They will continue to add colour to our Singapore culture.

This article was first published on January 2, 2015.
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