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Controversy surrounds demolition of Bukit Timah Food Centre: Netizens criticize integrated development plan for the “iconic” landmark

Singapore’s iconic Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre faces demolition in 2024 for an urban renewal project, sparking online criticism.

Netizens express concerns about the fate of local vendors, increased rental costs, and speculate about the replacement development, with some fearing it could be another condo or shopping mall, associating the decision with greed.

While some support the upgrade, others mourn the loss of an “iconic landmark” and express nostalgia for beloved stalls.



SINGAPORE – The iconic Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre in Singapore is set to face demolition in 2024 as part of the city’s urban renewal strategy.

This is to make way for an integrated development project slated for completion in the second half of 2029.

However, the decision has drawn criticism from netizens who express concerns about the fate of the landmark and the potential consequences for local vendors.

As outlined in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Master Plan 2019, there are plans for a new one-stop integrated facility in Bukit Timah.

This facility, located near Beauty World MRT station, is set to encompass a community club, renovated market, and a hawker center.

Additionally, the development aims to introduce various new amenities, including an indoor sports hall, a community library, and a facility catering to the elderly, all aimed at improving the overall quality of life in the area.

The proposed replacement is an ambitious five-storey building with about 29,000 sqm of space to house a market, a food centre, and two floors of underground parking.

Scheduled to commence in the second half of 2024, existing stallholders will be temporarily relocated to a market and food centres across the road about 200m away.

The National Environment Agency, which oversees the markets and hawker centres, has provided stallholders with advance notice to prepare for the upcoming changes. “This advance notice is crucial for our hawkers to make informed decisions about their future,” they said.

Mr Loh Chao Kiat, the chairman of the Interim Hawker Centre and Market Project Committee, shared with The Straits Times, “We had been given until mid-2022 to decide on moving to the interim space.”

Mr Loh, who has sold soya bean products in the market for eight years, expressed stallholders’ concerns: “The delay could affect the financial viability of the interim market for its operator.”

“The build-to-lease model for the interim facility means that any delay in moving could adversely affect the operator’s financial situation,” Mr Loh explained.

Stallholders are apprehensive about the higher rents at the interim market, which were confirmed by discussions with the Bukit Timah Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC) in March.

A local fishmonger, Mr Cheong, shared his predicament with ST. Currently paying around $300 for his stall, Mr Cheong is facing a significant increase in overheads, with the interim location demanding nearly triple that amount in rent.

Netizens voice their opinion over market’s demolition

The online community, in response to the impending demolition, has voiced disapproval, primarily centred around concerns for the livelihoods of the local hawkers.

The worry of increased rental costs and speculation about the nature of the replacement development have fueled discontent.

“Prices will definitely increase subsequently after upgrading..,” one user said.

Some users have also raised concerns about the potential replacement structure for the Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre.

There is apprehension that it could be another condominium or shopping mall, leading to suspicions that the decision is motivated by financial interests or greed.

“It’s all about the money,” one user said.

On the flip side, there are users who view the situation from a different angle, saying, “Congratulations, hawkers that work non-stop can finally have a great rest at last.”

One user is in favour of the demolition, stating, “Good. Time to upgrade the place on par with elsewhere,” given the outdated condition of the current Bukit Timah market building.

The loss of an “iconic” place and foods

Many users lament the loss of what they consider an “iconic landmark,” expressing sadness over the disappearance of familiar stalls that hold cherished memories.

The sentiment shared online suggests a deep attachment to the Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre, which was built in 1976.

Some expressed sadness over the possible loss of their beloved stalls like Sin Chew Satay Bee Hoon and He Zhong Carrot Cake that is popular in the market.

Additionally, one user raised doubts about the government’s inclination to “modernize” cherished local establishments, contending that the outcome typically results in a standard modern food court, restaurant, and popular trends like bubble tea anyway.

He argued that such initiatives contribute to an increased cost of living due to substantial investments in these modern facilities, which require returns on investment.

Meanwhile, another user simply stated, “History has no value in Singapore, just like everything else.”

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Singapore soon will be a new ‘showroom’ concept to woo the world to invest in Singapore, everything feels new nice and quality (of course not cheap). There will be more rich foreigners looking forward to live in Singapore with excitement (bring their whole family and Kampung people here) compare to local born citizens who feel that is just another (sad) day. There were so many examples. Bedok point got demolished. J-cube also died. So many forestry got bulldozed, like those along Bukit Batok Road, Brickland road, all removed and built tiny hdb. If you guys got time, please take more… Read more »

It is the usual SOP.

These hawkers give way to new development but ultimately the new rent is now based on “market rates”

Even the interim centre will charge “market rates” and will be privately run.

The NEA took this opportunity to wash its hands off the hawkers.

What happens then is as predictable as the sun rising in the east – hawker food prices will go up.

All these because of our very clever civil servants led by a deaf and insensitive G.

History and memories, … has no say as it must make way for money and inflated levies.

That’s SillyPore, … in a nutshell !!!

After the development, guaranteed chop, rental will increase. $300 no more lah.

Who did you voted? Old man Lee still the best. tsk tsk tsk…

You get what you vote for, Singapore’s food history is disappearing bit by bit. The current generation of hawkers have few replacements. Visit any hawker centre today and you will see many stalls run by elderly folk. The exceptions are usually the halal stalls.

Enjoy today’s cheap spread of Singaporean hwaker dishes because soon you will need to pay $$$ to enjoy it in a restaurant. Singapore is destined to become just “another” city.

I do not have a hand on it .