Singapore has come a long way since independence, growing from a fledgling nation to the metropolitan city it is today. Hailed as the “gateway to Southeast Asia”, the republic has garnered the reputation of being an excellent hub for global businesses hoping to break into the Southeast Asian market.
With Singapore celebrating its 53rd birthday in 2018, we take a step back to look at some of the nation’s traditional jobs and how they have evolved over the years:
Hawker centres are open-air complexes housing a wide variety of ‘hawkers’ – men and women who sell affordable food. The dining options usually found at hawker centres range from chicken rice and nasi padang, to mixed vegetable rice. In a bid to keep up with the changing taste preferences, modern-day hawkers are now catering to a growing demand for new spins on classic dishes that often incorporate more highbrow ingredients and preparations such as Wagyu beef and sous-vide chicken. Thanks to the convenience hawker centres, which are situated within neighbourhoods, Singaporeans hardly have to worry about going hungry.
From fruits and vegetables to livestock, agriculture was a booming industry in the early 1970s, and many Singaporeans became farmers. Back then, farmers relied heavily on laborious techniques.But as technological innovations has transformed the agriculture industry with automation,farming has become more productive and less labour intensive. In addition, an education push aimed to upskill today’s farmers has also equipped them with complementary knowledge like food safety so that they can do their jobs more effectively.
Also affectionately known as ‘karang guni’ – a Malay phrase for ‘gunny sack’ – rag-and-bone men are recognised for the signature tooting of their hand-held horns. Often accompanied by a nifty pushcart, they go door-to-door,buying unwanted items like newspapers or electronics, which are recycled or resold. Today, rag-and-bone services continue to play an important role in the nation’s green initiatives by providing citizens with greater convenience to promote recycling.
Ice Cream Vendors
A true-blue Singaporean childhood is sure to have nostalgic memories of bells ringing by an ice cream vendor. Traditional Singaporean ice cream comes in huge blocks of local flavours like red bean and sweet corn, and are cut down into smaller blocks, then served with waffle biscuits, coloured bread or in a cup. While these vendors have been facing increasing competition due to the rise of gelato and frozen yoghurt chains in recent years, the appeal of traditional ice cream has withstood the test of time. This is why mobile ice cream carts are still regularly sighted in many neighbourhoods and shopping districts.
So when you see people performing any of these jobs around Singapore, stop and appreciate the tradition of the services they provide while also marvelling at how far the country has come.