DBS pays tribute to hawkers with music and games at Esplanade on Dec 6
Sing along or join in the fun and games in an hour-long tribute to Singapore’s hawkers at the DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre at the Esplanade on Dec 6.
Organised by DBS as part of its DBS Perspectives @ Esplanade series, a bi-monthly community bonding programme, the free show starts at 7pm and will be hosted by food critic and Makansutra founder K.F. Seetoh, as well as DJs from SPH Radio station Kiss92.
“We felt it would be a wonderful way to sincerely give back to these hawkers who work so very hard to feed everyone,” says Kiss92 DJ Glenn Ong, who hosts The Big Show.
The event, Musical Tribute To Hawkers, kicks off with games and a quiz before turning up the music with performances by singer Sky Shen and DJ Shawnia Seah.
Expect familiar tunes such as This Is Me from the 2017 musical film The Greatest Showman, American singer Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Somewhere Over The Rainbow from the musical fantasy film The Wizard Of Oz (1939).
Shen, who uses a wheelchair due to a genetic disorder, hopes this event will encourage people from all walks of life to come together for a good time as “music connects people”.
He says: “For me, it is also a precious opportunity to work alongside non-disabled artistes and to build bridges that will enable our communities to collaborate further.”
There will also be a series of hawker-themed games, such as Order Recall, which invites participants to memorise and recite common food orders. They can also learn how to make the perfect cup of teh tarik in the Teh Tarik challenge.
Ms Karen Ngui, head of group strategic marketing and communications at DBS, says: “We want to find a way to engage the community and enable all generations, young and old, to better appreciate what hawkers go through.”
Among those in attendance will be winners of the DBS PayLah! Hawker Awards 2023, such as Mr Suren Daniels. His stall Heavens, at 20 Ghim Moh Road Market and Food Centre, is famed for its appam and thosai, and was named Best Indian Food Hawker.
He says: “It’s encouraging to hawkers to know that our trade is being recognised and respected. It also helps to raise the profile of a profession that may otherwise be frowned upon as a career choice.”
This event is part of DBS’ wider efforts to promote and safeguard hawker culture. Past initiatives include its Adopt-A-Hawker-Centre programme – which involved the bank making bulk purchases from participating stalls back in 2021 when they were hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and boosting their digital presence.
Another initiative was subsidising five million hawker meals from February 2023, as part of efforts to also ease cost-of-living pressures for its customers.
Co-host Seetoh says “every diligent bit counts” when supporting local hawker culture.
But beyond increased publicity, he says other structural changes are needed. For instance, he suggests finding ways to bring operational prices down and allowing hawkers to tap alternative sources of manpower, like foreign labour.