Hawker at North Bridge Road 'permanently chopes' table, hurls vulgarities at couple for sitting at it

Hawker at North Bridge Road 'permanently chopes' table, hurls vulgarities at couple for sitting at it
The hawker accused the couple of removing his items to dine on "his table".
PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook/Summer Fung

Diners reserving seats with tissue packets is a practice that's generally frowned upon but ingrained in local hawker culture.

But when a hawker 'permanently chopes' a table for his own use at North Bridge Road Market and Food Centre, his act has drawn brickbats online instead.

In a Facebook video shared by Summer Fung on Tuesday (April 26), it showed a hawker taking exception to a couple who was having a meal on a table that he had apparently reserved. There were some boxes and a water bottle on it. 

Launching in a furious rant that was laced with Hokkien profanities, the elderly hawker accused the couple of removing his items – a water bottle and several boxes – on "his table".

"I want to sit here...do you understand? I want to sit here and eat my biscuits, is that okay? I said, you can't sit here, it's for me to sit. I am saying that nicely to you," said the hawker in a mixture of Hokkien and Teochew in the video.

One of the patrons sitting on that table, a woman then replied in Chinese at the foul-mouthed hawker: "You don't have to shout at us, we will leave once we finish our food… You should have a good heart [since] you're selling vegetarian food."

In the accompanying caption, Fung questioned if such a practice is allowed in hawker centres.

"Should he also control himself and not loudly scold Hokkien expletives? It's very bad for our children and also visitors to Singapore," she added. 

It is unclear if this Facebook user is related to the couple. 

Some netizens in the comments urged diners to give the hawker's vegetarian stall a miss.

But a netizen pointed out that if diners can chope seats with tissue packets, the hawker is entitled to do the same with his water bottle.

But are hawker stall-owners or even patrons for that matter allowed to reserve seats or tables with their tissue packets, umbrellas or other personal items? 

The National Environment Agency (NEA) had responded in a previous Straits Times forum letter in 2017 that "for hawker centres, the NEA does not have any restrictions against patrons who reserve seats".

The agency added that patrons should always exercise consideration for others when dining at hawker centres and sharing the facilities.

It is unclear if this guideline extends to hawkers. 

NEA's reply was in response to writers who had called for an end to the "choping" practice at hawker centres and coffee shops. 

AsiaOne has reached out to the NEA for comment.


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