You know this guy hasn't stepped into a hawker center except during election time when he says things like, "It's not as if anyone can just walk off the street and say I'm going to make the world's best char kway teow. There's an element of training, exchanging of best practices and recipes. And we need in a way to professionalise our hawker centres and our hawkers." Maybe he's like the keechiu general who only partakes $10 chye tow kuay (fried carrot cake) flavored with XO Sauce.
Lesser mortals don't need GPS guided instructions downloaded on an Android smartphone to track down a hawker centre with a tasty equivalent costing $1.50, and which does not require costly infusion of exotic foreign condiments.
When Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishan made the call that hawker centres should be professionalised, and future hawkers should undergo training, he must be thinking that he still has access to the blank checks he was issued for the YOG blowout. Who's going to pay for the training centers, the professional trainers? How many plates of char kway teow must the poor hawker sell to recoup the training fees and certification costs?
The 10 new hawker centres that will be built in new housing estates from October should be opportunities to create employment for the lower income group, those that do not have the paper qualifications or technical skills for a better paying job. They are not the types likely to install a CCTV at their stall to make sure customers don't bitch about ter kwa in their bak chor mee, when they ne'er say they didn't want ter kwa in the first place. Balakrishnan may be used to fellow parliamentarians (still) undergoing on the job training at taxpayers' expense, but self respecting hawkers earn their honest keep by the sweat on their brows because they know how to cook without having to take cooking lessons in France, unlike some under-worked over-paid permanent secretaries.
The Environment and Water Resources Ministry has appointed a panel to spearhead the public consultation exercise for what future hawker centres should be like - they better not engage some external consultant on the sly like Gerard Ee did for the Ministerial Salary Review sham. What we don't want is another lavish spending exercise which adds unnecessary overheads to simple hawker fare. Anyway, who knows better about affordable good hawker food like us Singaporeans born and bred?