The year 2020 will be remembered in world history for all the wrong reasons. But in Singapore, there was a glimmer of hope for thousands of hospitality workers just before Christmas, as the Lion City’s famous hawker culture was officially inscribed on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Joining more than 460 entries on the list - including traditional Japanese cuisine or ‘washoku’ and Belgian beer - this was Singapore’s second UNESCO entry after the Singapore Botanic Gardens was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2015.
We're well into a new year, and as the lockdowns endure, many hawkers have had time to reflect on the initiative. For Melvin Chew, second generation owner of the 38-year-old Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck and Kway Chap at Chinatown Complex Food Centre, the announcement is cause for much-needed celebration. “I am thrilled about the inscription of Singapore’s hawker culture with UNESCO,” he says.