Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 01/14/2014 22:07 | By Channel NewsAsia

Outdated rule for food hawkers meant to deal with 'zhi char' stalls: NEA

Outdated rule for food hawkers meant to deal with 'zhi char' stalls: NEA


Outdated rule for food hawkers meant to deal with 'zhi char' stalls: NEA

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) said that an outdated rule for food hawkers to be abolished was meant to deal with heavy cooking requirements of 'zhi char' stalls - a staple of Singaporean food culture.

On January 13, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan ordered the rule scrapped after hawker Daniel Goh raised the issue on his Facebook page.

The National Environment Agency said it will be updating hawker licence conditions to reflect the current situation.

'Hawkerpreneur' Daniel Goh, who owns a beer stall in Chinatown, was alerted by a fellow stall holder to an old rule under the hawker licensing regime.

The old rule required hawkers to seek approval before selling 'restaurant type of dishes'.

Goh thought the rule impeded food innovation and was 'archaic'. He raised the issue online on January 10 and what happened next stunned him.

On January 13, the rule was ordered to be scrapped with immediate effect.

"That kind of speed really, really, gives us hope. When we consider the hawker scene, it gives us hope that things would change for the better," said Goh.

'Restaurant type of dishes' typically applies to homely, cooked-to-order Chinese food, also known as 'zhi char'.

The preparations of the dishes generate plenty of smoke and need fume-extraction devices, as well as more power for larger refrigerators that store ingredients. Approval from authorities was therefore needed.

However, times have changed and the hawker centres of today are quite different from those of yesteryear.

With progressive upgrades overtime, these food places now have exhaust systems and more electrical power suited for the needs of those selling 'restaurant type of dishes'.

Despite the changes, the NEA will continue with its regular inspections to ensure food hygiene standards are maintained.

- CNA/fa

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