Went to Balestier Food Centre with my parents today. This used to be a neighbourhood wet market and hawker centre renowned for low prices. Like many food centres in Singapore, it has been corporatised and sold to the highest bidder. Banquet, the food court operator, has gentrified the place with colourful plastic outfit and fibreglass installations. And of course, prices have gone up multifold. A bowl of beef noodle is now $6 to 8. "So expensive and yet no air-con," Mum said.
This is the problem in Singapore. Everything has been corporatised. Utilities, transportation network, whatever. Hawker centres and markets have long been where the ordinary Singaporean worker - not highly paid financial services executive, hip media artists or the huge army of "foreign talent" - have been able to find good food at low prices. They are a part of the Singapore dream, a way of life and very essence of what is Singaporean. Now these are sold to the highest bidders and prices have risen. The recent $500,000 monthly rental of Sengkang Market to a private group has shocked many. With an increasingly skewed gini index, I wonder what all these means to the ordinary worker.