Makansutra founder KF Seetoh took to Facebook on Friday (25 June) to slam the National Environment Agency (NEA) for raising the rent of hawker stalls by 40 percent amid challenging times due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Here we all are doing our best to #supportourhawkers, and there they are at same time raising the hawkers rent by almost 40%… Why oh why I ask. You may need to claw back to top up the national coffers but do your leaders even know it’s a horrible timing to do so now. This hawker had been languishing in sales this whole year,” he said.

In the post, Mr Seetoh did not mention which hawker stalls are subjected to the rental hike, but include a letter by NEA informing a stall owner on the rental raise.

The letter also stated that the “revised rent is based on the market rent assessed by our professional valuers”.

Mr Seetoh said that although two people are allowed to dine-in, in accordance to rules set in Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) phase, the situation is not great for the hawkers.

This is because most people are buying things online, making it difficult for hawkers who are working offline to make sales.

“Lotsa folks are buying online and WFM, a seductive and convenient culture ingrained into us over the last year and many offline hawkers are left to dry out,” he said.

He added, “Two to a table with 3 turns at peak lunch hour is only 6 dishes n drinks, that’s just scratching at hope’s door. Top that up with this ‘professional valuers’ decree that rents must be raised now, it is another death knell for the #supportourhawkers movement.”

As such, he wondered if this act of increasing hawkers rental rates – who are selling affordable food – by 40 percent, and at the same time, coming up with a campaign informing the public to pay more for food is in line with world standards.

“Say, did these pro valuers value the pricing of our affordable hawker food and suggest it should also be raised by 40% and recommend a campaign to inform public they should all, well heeled and disadvantaged, be paying lots more for the be in line with world standards?

“Selling food at such low prices to keep the less blessed well fed in fully developed a compassionate duty and responsibility,” Mr Seetoh concluded.

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