UNESCO Hawker Culture, Singapore

Evaluation body recommends Hawker Culture in Singapore for inscription on UNESCO representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity











Singapore, 17 November 2020 – On 16 November, the 12-member Evaluation Body appointed by the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) released a recommendation for Hawker Culture in Singapore to be inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Evaluation Body's recommendation will guide the discussion of Singapore's bid at the 15th session of IGC to be held online from 14 to 19 December 2002. The IGC will assess the recommendation of the Evaluation Body and make the final decision as to whether Hawker Culture in Singapore will be inscribed to the Representative List.

The Evaluation Body evaluates the nominations submitted by State Parties to the Lists, including the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and makes recommendations to the IGC for its final decision. Overall, the Evaluation Body recommended Hawker Culture in Singapore to be inscribed, having assessed it to fulfill all of the five criteria used by the IGC. In addition, the Evaluation Body also commended Singapore for devising creative ways to encourage the active participation of the communities concerned in the nomination process, from the very outset. It also commended Singapore for preparing a nomination file related to an intangible cultural heritage element that is thriving in a highly urbanised and culturally diverse environment, and for developing safeguarding measures that effectively foster dialogue, creativity, and sustainability. Singapore’s nomination was also cited by the Evaluation Body as a positive example for its celebration of intangible cultural heritage, diversity, dialogue, and sustainability 

Ms. Chang Hwee Nee, Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Board (NHB), said, “The Evaluation Body’s recommendation is an affirmation by international experts of Singapore’s bid. Comprising a unique combination of food, space, and community, Hawker Culture has evolved into a microcosm of our multicultural society and is an integral part of our living heritage. It provides a sense of identity and continuity in Singapore, over generations and through urbanisation and development. We have seen overwhelming support from Singaporeans since the announcement of Singapore’s nomination was made in August 2018. We hope the successful inscription of Hawker Culture would further raise awareness and appreciation among Singaporeans of the importance of intangible cultural heritage in our daily lives and continue to promote dialogues among our communities. With the recommendation, we hope to hear good news during the IGC meeting in December.”

Mr. Tan Meng Dui, Chief Executive Officer of the National Environment Agency (NEA), said, “Hawker Culture is synonymous to Singapore, and a unifying culture that binds our people and society. The effort to inscribe Hawker Culture in Singapore on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity shows our commitment as a nation to safeguard Hawker Culture for generations to come. While Hawker Culture is as old as Singapore, its development has evolved over the years, with emphasis on building conducive hawker centres in the early years, to creating vibrant community dining rooms, and sustaining the hawker trade for the future. Hawkers are central to our Hawker Culture. NEA remains steadfast in our efforts to attract new entrants to the trade, and to partner hawkers and relevant stakeholders to sustain and strengthen hawker culture. A successful inscription in December will be the finest form of recognition to all our hawkers, past and present.”

Mr. Yeo Hiang Meng, President of The Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore (FMAS) said, “It is heartening to hear that the Evaluation Body has recognised Singapore’s efforts in nominating Hawker Culture for inscription. The Federation Merchants’ Association, Singapore has been actively engaging our hawkers through our Hawkers’ Associations or representatives throughout the nomination journey. Our hawker members are very proud of our nomination and have stepped forward to show their support in various ways. We hope that the IGC’s decision in December will be a favourable one, which will bring about more awareness of our Hawker Culture internationally, and acknowledgment for our hawker members’ dedication towards their craft.”

With this inscription, FMAS has gathered sponsored goodie bags from Kikkoman and Union Gas, worked with NEA and People's Association, distributed them to 114 Hawker Centres in Singapore before end of March 2021.