Ever since Singapore has separated from Malaysia and has declared its independence in 1965, these two have argued over who has a stronger claim to the aspects of their shared heritage.  This rivalry have extended over to the street food and the recent sticking point is the plan by Singapore to ask UNESCO to get to know the street vendor of the city state or the hawkers as a part of the intangible cultural heritage of the world.

The plan is gaining momentum since r Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore have announced it in August.  The national museum of the country is going to host a related exhibition this month and from Monday, the government will organize a petition for supporting the bid of UNESCO already had 38,000 signatures.  However, some chefs, foodies, and social media users  in Malaysia is known to have countered the withering criticism suggesting that Singapore’s hawker’s stalls are sanitized to compete with the glitter which is much tastier than counterparts.

Foong Li Mei, the co-author of The Food That Makes Us, says that the street food is actually one of the few areas where Malaysians can confidently say that they do better than the cleaner, richer, and the efficient neighbor.  This might be the reason why Singapore’s petition for UNESCO recognition of the hawker culture tends to offend some of the Malaysians. It sound like Singapore is saying that the hawker food is the best and also original.

The criticism has prompted some people in Singapore to double down. This discussion might be carried out properly after the hawker stall in Malaysian secures a Michelin star then they will have an equal footing. Singapore states that it plans on submitting the UNESCO bid in the month of March and Lee has said that in August that city state’s hawker food in UN organization intangible heritage register is going to help in promoting and safeguarding the unique culture for future generations.


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