Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor gave an interview to Mothership.sg which was published on Sunday (28 Oct). Mothership, of course, is funded by former civil servant Philip Yeo and former PAP Minister George Yeo.
The article titled, ‘Almost Famous: Why is Senior Minister of State Amy Khor S’pore govt’s face of hawker culture?‘, painted a very good picture of Dr Khor.
“Amy Khor is pretty darn passionate about hawker food,” Mothership said. “Upon her arrival at Maxwell Food Centre (for the interview), she is waylaid by hawkers left and right and takes a good 10 minutes to traverse the two-third length of the hawker centre to our table.”
Mothership also reported that Dr Khor’s “great hawker foodie fandom” has even “infected” her family.
“Her 28-year-old son, who attends food photography classes with Leslie Tay of the ieatishootipost fame, goes on weekly hawker food hunts. Most importantly, on Saturdays, he brings his grandma to ABC Brickworks for food and to make her rounds catching up with her friends,” Mothership said.
Amy Khor’s mother was a hawker
It was also revealed that Dr Khor’s mother was, in fact, a hawker herself. She used to run a Chinese dessert stall at Dr Khor’s primary school.
Apparently, in her primary and secondary school years, Dr Khor would wake up at 3am to help her mother prepare a range of dessert food items to sell at Alexandra Hill Primary School, the school Dr Khor went to.
“As her school session was in the afternoon, a young and enterprising Khor ran delivery rounds with the teachers at the school so she could double the price of the food items she sold (20 cents, as opposed to just 10 cents for students) to them,” Mothership reported.
“This also meant studying was done at the stall and on the hour-long 191 bus rides she took to and from Stevens Road, she explains, but she really loved learning (despite claiming she isn’t actually great at it), and so took her interest in learning anything in general all the way to a PhD in land management, which she got after her Master’s degree in the U.S. when her husband moved there for work.”
Mothership: Dr Khor the right person for the job
At the interview, Dr Khor “patiently goes through the policies, initiatives and the efforts” the government is taking to “protect” hawker culture with Mothership.
Mothership said, “But she also lapses frequently into excitedly telling us about a certain dish that is done by a hawker in a unique way at one of the stalls at a hawker centre, not unlike how we would recommend great food we happen to have tried to our friends and family, and we often find ourselves having to bring the carried-away Khor back.”
“It’s surprising for us to see this side of a woman whom we mostly would see in Parliament videos or on TV speaking in a straight, formal and bordering-on-monotonous voice, always with a perfectly-coiffed bob,” Mothership added.
“But at the same time, it convinces us that Khor is indeed the right person for this advocacy work — not everyone may realise this, but Khor tells us hawkers have come up to her to say how pleased they were to hear about the government’s effort to recognise the work they have done all these years through the bid for Singapore’s hawker culture to be listed among UNESCO’s intangible assets of cultural heritage.”
With regard to the ongoing controversies of letting social enterprises to run publicly funded hawker centers, Dr Khor said she has asked NEA to do a “thorough stock-take of what’s happening”.
Mothership said, “She hopes for the public’s patience with the government in this process — as with all things the government has to do, this will take some time.”
“She stresses too that this is a concept that’s being trialed in its infancy stages,” Mothership added.
Mothership concluded its article by assuring everyone that hawker food and hawker culture really occupies a very special place in Dr Khor’s heart.