S’pore Hawker’s Rent Allegedly Increases By 40%, KF Seetoh Appeals For Compassion

KF Seetoh Posts About Alleged 40% Rent Increase Faced By Hawker

UPDATE (26 Jun): NEA has released a statement addressing KF Seetoh’s claims about increased hawker rentals.

You may read their statement in full below.

With dine-in restrictions and more people working from home, hawkers have no doubt been having it tough during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Older Hawkers Who Aren’t Online At Risk Of Losing Their Stalls, S’poreans Urged To Support Them

Yet recently, a hawker at an undisclosed food centre allegedly received a document informing him of a 40% rent increase.

On Friday (25 Jun), Makansutra founder KF Seetoh took to Facebook to share his disappointment with the move.

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Calling it ill-timed, Mr Seetoh took the opportunity to highlight the hawkers’ plight during the pandemic.

KF Seetoh shares rent increase document allegedly from NEA

In the post, the Makansutra founder shared a document allegedly from NEA, which a hawker recently received.

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Though he censored certain parts of the documents, Mr Seetoh said that it essentially informed the hawker of a 40% rent increase.

He explained that the names and numbers in the report were redacted as the hawker has “accepted his fate and moved on”.

Mr Seetoh then shared that hawkers have experienced poor business throughout the pandemic. The rental raise thus comes at “poor timing”.

Picture from Jun 2020, for illustration purposes only
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He added that hawkers are not making much even with the 2-person dine-in rule.

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As such, raising rent now is akin to a “death knell” to the ongoing movement encouraging Singaporeans to support hawkers.

Offline hawkers struggle as more Singaporeans shop online

Even as the authorities plan to ease dine-in restrictions soon, Mr Seetoh seemed pessimistic about how it’ll affect hawkers.

He pointed out that many Singaporeans are now making purchases online while working from home.

In his view, this has adversely impacted offline hawkers as they are “left to dry out”.

Picture from Jun 2020, for illustration purposes only 
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Important to keep food affordable in Singapore

Criticising the alleged rental raise, Mr Seetoh questioned if valuers have accounted for hawker food prices.

Otherwise, he asked if hawkers should raise their prices by 40% as well to match the global standards.

He ended his post on a sombre note, reminding everyone of how important it is to keep food prices affordable:

Selling food at such low prices to keep the less blessed well fed in fully developed Singapore..is a compassionate duty and responsibility.

NEA says it’s misleading to look at rental increases as a %

On Saturday (26 Jun), NEA issued a statement addressing Mr Seetoh claims.

In the post, NEA said such upwards rent revision have not exceeded $300 in recent years. However, in the same period, there have been downwards revisions of more than $300.

They also pointed out that it’s “misleading” to look at rental increases as a percentage of previous charges.

Additionally, NEA highlighted the fact that rental increases have been frozen from Apr 2020 to Mar 2021 and that they have provided rental waivers for 7 months throughout the 2 years.

The full statement can be found here.

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Hawkers among the hardest hit during the pandemic

While this remains a one-sided story at the point of writing, we can understand Mr Seetoh’s frustrations if the claims are true.

Hawkers are essential to preserving Singapore’s invaluable food culture, yet they’re among those who have been struggling the most throughout the pandemic.

We hope the hawkers are receiving enough support to ensure their survival through these tough times.

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at news@mustsharenews.com.

Featured image by MS News and is for illustration purposes only. 

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