Bringing Singapore’s UNESCO bid to a hawker centre near you

SINGAPORE: Curious to know what constitutes Hawker Culture or why Singapore is nominating our Hawker Culture to be inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity?

The National Heritage Board (NHB), National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore (FMAS) have put together Our SG Hawker Culture Exhibition, a new travelling exhibition designed to raise greater awareness of the significance of our well-loved Hawker Culture and how Singapore is now working towards nominating this integral aspect of Singapore’s living heritage for inscription onto the UNESCO Representative List.

Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, President of FMAS, said: “FMAS and the hawker community are excited about Our SG Hawker Culture Exhibition as patrons of our hawker centres will not just get to enjoy our delicious hawker fare, but also learn more about our Hawker Culture and pledge their support for the UNESCO nomination. This will bring about greater recognition for our hawkers and the hard work and long hours they put in to sustain our UNESCO-worthy Hawker Culture.”

Launch of New Our SG Hawker Culture Exhibition

Since the announcement of Singapore’s plans to nominate our Hawker Culture for inscription on the UNESCO Representative List by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally (NDR) 2018, more than 34,000 individuals have pledged their support for the nomination of our Hawker Culture online ( With the launch of Our SG Hawker Culture Exhibition, more Singaporeans can pledge their support and share their favourite memories of our Hawker Culture at the travelling exhibition itself, leading up to the submission of the nomination documents in March 2019.

Aside from a pledging booth, the Our SG Hawker Culture Exhibition will also showcase Singapore’s Hawker Culture and its unique combination of hawkers, hawker centres and hawker food and explain why it was selected to be Singapore’s first ICH element to be submitted for inscription onto UNESCO’s Representative List. The exhibition will also explain what the UNESCO nomination is about and provide a timeline of the nomination process, from now till the announcement of the results in end 2020.

Our SG Hawker Culture Exhibition will kick off at the Tiong Bahru Market on 25 October 2018 and travel to 13 locations over the next three months, including Yuhua Village Market & Food Centre, Toa Payoh Hub, Central Public Library, KINEX and Our Tampines Hub.

Growing Community Support for Hawker Culture

Since Prime Minister Lee’s announcement at the NDR 2018, many Singaporeans have stepped forward to support the nomination, beyond the submission of pledges.

Individuals have contributed their personal stories and wishes for the nomination through NHB’s website. The Birthday Collective will produce digital video cookbooks and develop a glossary of local terms used in our food lingo associated with hawker food.

Students of St. Gabriel’s Primary School, adopters of NEA’s Vibrant Hawker Centres Programme1, have volunteered for Our SG Hawker Culture Exhibition.

“Through our annual publication, The Birthday Book, and other projects, the Collective aims to present narratives about Singapore that are simultaneously hopeful and realistic about our long-term challenges. Food, and hawker food in particular, has always been part of the Singapore story, and we are excited about the opportunity to bring this story to new audiences.” – The Birthday Collective

The Vibrant Hawker Centres Programme by the NEA aims to encourage the public to “adopt” the hawker centres and organise community-centric programmes and activities on a sustained basis to increase the centres’ vibrancy and encourage greater public ownership of our hawker centres. To date, 19 adopters have organised a total of 48 events ranging from music performances, digital art showcases, interactive games and public dialogue sessions to art and music workshops.

These examples of strong community support for Singapore’s nomination of Hawker Culture will be included in the nomination documents. In addition to the travelling exhibition, the FMAS will be organising engagement sessions with hawkers’ associations and hawkers to gather feedback and solicit support from hawkers. These are part of efforts to secure strong community support, which is instrumental to the success of Singapore’s nomination of Hawker Culture for UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Mr Alvin Tan, NHB’s Assistant Chief Executive (Policy & Community), said: “We hope that the nomination journey and a successful listing will confer upon our hawkers the recognition they deserve, increase patronage of our hawker centres and revitalise the hawker trade by attracting new and young hawkers. However, while the UNESCO listing will be a welcome achievement, concerted efforts by the public, private and people sectors are needed to address teething issues to ensure that Singapore’s Hawker Culture will continue to have a bright and promising future and new generations of Singaporeans can continue to enjoy delicious and affordable hawker food.”

For more information and to pledge your support, please visit

For social posts, do hashtag #ourhawkerculture.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) was formed on 1 August 1993. As the custodian of Singapore’s heritage, NHB is responsible for telling the Singapore story, sharing the Singaporean experience and imparting our Singapore spirit.

NHB’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the shared heritage of our diverse communities for the purpose of education, nation building and cultural understanding. It manages the national museums and heritage institutions and sets policies relating to heritage sites, monuments and the national collection. Through the national collection, NHB curates heritage  programmes and presents exhibitions to connect the past, present and future generations of Singaporeans. NHB is a statutory board under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Please visit for more information.

Formed on 1 July 2002, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is the leading public organisation responsible for ensuring a clean and green environment, and the sustainable development of Singapore. Its key roles are to protect Singapore’s resources from pollution, maintain a high level of public health and provide timely meteorological information. NEA also develops and spearheads environmental initiatives and programmes through its partnership with the People, Public and Private sectors. It is committed to motivating every individual to care for the environment as a way of life, in order to sustain a quality living environment for present and future generations.

Registered as an association in 1989, the Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore (FMAS) is a non-profit organisation formed to represent interest of merchants operating in the Housing and Development Board (HDB) neighbourhood and town centres as well as stallholders selling in the National Environmental Agency (NEA) hawker centres and markets.

Its vision is to be the champion for the heartland business community, and the bridge between the government and heartland retailers and hawkers.

UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity comprises the diverse cultural practices and expressions of humanity, and seeks to raise awareness of the importance of such practices and expressions, encourage dialogue that respects cultural diversity as well as give due recognition to the practices and expressions of communities worldwide.

The successful listing of an element on UNESCO’s Representative List by a country does not imply that this element belongs to, originates from, or exists only in the submitting country.

Since the Representative List was developed in 2008, a total of 399 intangible cultural heritag elements have been inscribed as of 2017.

Some of the intangible cultural heritage elements on UNESCO’s Representative List include Mak Yong theatre (Malaysia, 2008), Gastronomic Meal of the French (France, 2010), Indonesian Angklung (Indonesia, 2010), Chinese Shadow Puppetry (China, 2011), Kimjang, or the making and sharing of Kimchi (South Korea, 2013), Washoku (Japan, 2013), Bagpipe Culture (Slovakia, 2015) and Yoga (India, 2016).


Tiong Bahru Market (Atrium and Level 2)
30 Seng Poh Road Singapore 168898
25 Oct – 7 Nov 2018
10am – 6pm daily

National Museum of Singapore (Concourse)
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897
3 Nov – 7 Dec 2018
10am – 6pm daily

Ci Yuan Community & Hawker Centre (Atrium)
51 Hougang Avenue 9 Singapore 530917
8 – 16 Nov 2018
10am – 8pm daily

Our Tampines Hub
1 Tampines Walk Singapore 528523
26 Nov – 2 Dec 2018
10am – 8pm daily

Bedok Town Square
208C New Upper Changi Road Singapore 463208
5 – 13 Dec 2018
10am – 8pm daily

Bukit Batok Library
1 Bukit Batok Central Link, #03-01 West Mall (658713)
8 Dec 2018 – 6 Jan 2019
10am – 6pm daily
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 10am – 3pm

Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre
Level 2, 676 Woodlands Drive 71 Singapore 730676
17 – 23 Dec 2018
10am – 8pm daily

Yuhua Village Market & Food Centre
Central Atrium, 254 Jurong East Street 24 Singapore 600254
2 – 14 Jan 2019
10am – 8pm daily

Atrium, 11 Tanjong Katong Road Singapore 437157
7 – 13 Jan 2019
11am – 8pm daily

Toa Payoh Hub (Atrium) 15 – 20 Jan 2019
10am – 8pm daily

Velocity Mall
238 Thomson Road Singapore 307683
15 – 20 Jan 2019
11am – 8pm daily

Central Public Library (Atrium)
100 Victoria Street Singapore 188064
21 – 31 Jan 2019
10am – 6pm daily

Jurong East Library
21 Jurong East Central 1 Singapore 609732
21 – 31 Jan 2019
10am – 6pm daily


“Hawker culture is an enduring part of what makes up Singapore. It brings us the comforting feeling of home despite the heat, and is an indulgence we have access to no matter which part of Singapore we’re in. It is what many of us have grown up with and I am grateful to the hawkers who spend many hours in the heat frying, cooking, boiling and serving us wonderful food. As a Singaporean, it is my pride and honour to have such a vibrant hawker culture in our country.” – Chloe Fu

“Without the hawkers, we will not have our Singaporean identity. It is important that we preserve this heritage of ours. Every Singaporean has experienced hawker food at one point of their life in Singapore. Preserve it please!”  – Muhammad Redzuan

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