Passing The Baton

Young hawkers Walter Tay and Keith Koh prefer to see the silver lining behind the tough business.

By Edmund Wee      1 May 2019

Tell us a great thing about being a hawker?

KEITH: Receiving positive feedback from customers.

WALTER: Having sceptical people try our carrot cake and then ordering takeaways! It’s a sign of success.

What was your father’s reaction when you said you wanted to be a hawker?

KEITH: My parents were initially against the idea but, over time, I’d managed to convince them. They had wanted me to “make use” of my degree and get a job like everyone else.

WALTER: My dad was actually very happy and proud. He’s the kind of hawker who hopes that the younger generation would take over.

Share with us some challenges you faced when working with your dad?

KEITH: We have very different opinions about things, so there have been many clashes. My dad being a senior and who he is, it’s hard to correct him or tell him off. We live together, so sometimes issues at work spill over at home. But we’ve managed to overcome those obstacles together.

WALTER: From the start, there was a bit of miscommunication between us because we brought the family dynamics into work, which I believe isn’t healthy. Since we’ve become clearer about our respective roles and responsibilities, things are better.

So there were compromises?

KEITH: I had to be more patient with my father, and he’s had to be more open-minded to my suggestions.

WALTER: We’re from different generations and are both strong characters. So we’ve learnt to slow down when we’re in a discussion and not let things get too heated.


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