Saturday, 7 April 2007

Singapore - Newly renovated Newton Circus Hawker Center

Newton Circus
Originally uploaded by seraphim1970.

A hawker centre or food centre (Simplified Chinese: 小贩中心 or 熟食中心) is the name given to open-air complexes in Malaysia and Singapore housing many stalls that sell a variety of inexpensive food. They are typically found near public housing estates or transport hubs (such as bus interchanges or train stations).

Hawker centres sprung up in urban areas following the rapid urbanisation in the 1950s and 1960s. In many cases, they were built partly to address the problem of unhygienic food preparation by unlicensed street hawkers. More recently, they have become less ubiquitous due to growing affluence in the urban populations of Malaysia and Singapore. Particularly in Singapore, they are increasingly being replaced by food courts, which are indoor, air conditioned versions of hawker centres located in shopping malls and other commercial venues.

In the 1950s and 1960s, hawker centres were considered to be a venue for the less affluent. They had a reputation for unhygienic food, partly due to the frequent appearance of stray domestic pets and pests. To make matters worse, many hawker centres were poorly managed by their operators, often lacking running water and proper facilities for cleaning. More recently, hygiene standards have improved, with pressure from the local authorities. This includes the implementation of licensing requirements, where a sufficient standard of hygiene is required for the stall to operate, and rewarding exceptionally good hygiene. Upgrading or reconstruction of hawker centres was initiated in the late 1990s in Singapore. At the same time, hawker centres were renamed food centres.

The hawker centres in Singapore are owned by three government bodies, namely the National Environment Agency (NEA) under the parent Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), Housing and Development Board (HDB) and JTC Corporation. All the centres, in turn, are managed by NEA.

Note: Thank you Wikipedia for the description.