'Patronise these silent sufferers', KF Seetoh highlights plight of tech-illiterate hawkers during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)

Workers fencing off tables and chairs at Golden Mile Food Centre on May 15, 2021.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

With Phase 2's (Heightened Alert) dining-in restrictions, eateries across the country are seeing a drastic decrease in footfall, and non-tech-savvy hawkers, most of all, are feeling the brutal pinch.

"A lot of hawkers … are not online nor on anything except a prayer and hope," Makansutra founder KF Seetoh said in a now-viral Facebook post, uploaded on Wednesday (May 19).

"They still sit there with all their food nicely laid out and prettily lit, waiting for the inevitable to happen."

The inevitable he referred to was permanent closure. According to the food guru that’s behind popular hawker food guide Makansutra, the cost of running a stall was much more than what they received in rental rebates. 

this reality is very overlooked. Alot of hawkers, and i mean plenty plenty, are not online nor on anything except a...

Posted by Kf Seetoh on Tuesday, May 18, 2021

As such, he pleaded for Singaporeans to "patronise these silent sufferers", both food hawkers and the fresh produce hawkers who operate at wet markets.

"They will appreciate deep down inside."

In the comments, a netizen shared how worry was clearly visible in the hawkers' eyes when he purchased from them.

PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook

This is not the first time Seetoh has voiced out his support for hawkers, having done so before during the circuit breaker last year as well in this 2018 interview citing hawker food as the most important aspect of Singapore's identity.

Meanwhile, food delivery and e-commerce subsidies have since been made available to help hawkers diversify their channels of revenue, trade agency Enterprise Singapore said on May 16.

From now till June 15, Enterprise Singapore will fund five per cent of the commission cost charged by Deliveroo, foodpanda and GrabFood, and 20 per cent of the delivery costs for orders made through third-party logistic partners.

However, some hawkers are considering hanging up their aprons for good as they're illiterate, and hence unable to take orders from delivery platforms.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/HawkersUnited2020/permalink/546130066388032/

Speaking with 8Days, Calvin Sim, the son of a 73-year-old hawker, said his father couldn't keep up with technology and is struggling to keep the business afloat using his own savings.

"At the age of 70 plus, he's not agile enough to multitask anymore. He's still using the old Nokia handphone." 

rainercheung@asiaone.com