In a Facebook post on Wed (25 Nov), the Senior Minister of State in the Ministry for Sustainability and the Environment, Amy Khor, said that she is encouraged by the progress of more people becoming hawkers under the Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP).
The former Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) has been renamed as the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) as of 25 July this year.
Khor especially went to a stall manned by Ken Chew, 46, and Steven Goh, 42 in Ang Mo Kio to sample their food. “Yesterday (24 Nov), I had the opportunity to taste delicious min jiang kueh freshly made by Ken and Steven, two aspiring hawkers onboard the Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP),” Khor wrote.
Ken and Steven were mentored by a veteran hawker to learn the ropes of making min jiang kueh. Under HDP, which is developed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), aspiring hawkers will be equipped with the “relevant skills and competencies to run their hawker businesses”.
“Through our ongoing efforts to attract new entrants to the trade, the median age of new entrants is now 46 years old — much lower than the national median age of 59,” Khor added.
“We are encouraged by the progress and will press on with the hawker community and stakeholders to safeguard our hawker culture.”
Pilots forced to turn hawkers
Ken and Steven were actually pilots who once soared the skies flying passenger planes. But nowadays, they spend their days making min jiang kueh.
Ken, who was a former senior first officer, said working at the coffee shop was a “totally different environment.”
Steven, an ex-flight captain said that one needs to have endurance to be a hawker because one would be working without any rest or time to sit down.
Steven was grounded in Feb while Ken in Mar this year due to COVID-19. To make a living, they both turned to hawking and signed up with NEA’s and SSG’s Hawkers’ Development Programme. Under HDP, they have to also take classes about business planning and marketing.
It’s tough work as they have to mix vats of batter and stand behind hot cast iron pans every day. But whenever they get good feedback from customers, it spurs them on. “That’s what is keeping me going,” said Steven.
Still, the 2 former pilots hope that the aviation industry will recover “within a year or two” and that they’ll be able to fly their plane again.
Meanwhile, Khor certainly hopes to see success in NEA’s HDP with more Singaporeans signing up to become hawkers.