Melanie Nambiar
Melanie is Mintel's Southeast Asia Trends Analyst based in the Kuala Lumpur office, focusing on capturing consumer behaviour in the Southeast Asian market.

Singapore is home to many open-air food courts, where vendors, known as hawkers, serve delectable dishes at relatively low prices. To preserve this iconic culture, earlier this year, the city-state officially submitted its nomination to inscribe its hawker culture on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Source: Gettyimages

The cultural meaning and social functions of Singapore’s hawker culture certainly cannot be ignored. Hawker centres provide affordable meals to people of different ethnicities, religions and social strata, while offering a livelihood for hawkers whose culinary specialities have been passed down through generations. They also embrace people from all backgrounds, maintain community interactions and foster inclusivity.

Hawker culture is an integral part of everyday life in Singapore and has been embraced by its citizens as well as tourists, and that is why hawker culture has been able to thrive in an urban environment like Singapore. Regardless of the nomination’s outcome, the government must continue to meaningfully support and act in the interests of hawkers, as their businesses ultimately concern their passion and livelihoods.

As reflected in Mintel Trend ‘Patriot Games’, the rise of multiculturalism and mass travel is fueling a society that’s more attuned to cultural diversity and authenticity. Particularly, feelings of patriotism and nationalistic pride are coming under threat and are in danger of being diluted.

Hawker culture is something that binds Singaporean society; as such, the government as well as the general public must persist in preserving this culture and what it stands for, and continue to support future generations who intend to take up the trade.

With the National Day of Singapore fast approaching (9 August), here’s wishing all Singaporeans around the world a Happy National Day!