Thursday 30 October 2008

Pasar malams dying? I hope so

I don't understand the appeal of pasar malams.

Is it the ungodly over-abundance of handphone covers for sale that is further proof of an inevitable man-made environmental apocalypse?

Or the forest of shoddy counterfeit branded goods openly displayed on makeshift racks, belying our country's law-and-order rep?

Or the life-shortening deep-fried food-on-a-stick prepared in possibly, if not alarmingly, unsanitary conditions?

No. I know what it is.

It's the Ramly Burger. That damn fried egg-wrapped grilled meat patty in a sliced sesame seed bun.

For people who think that a regular cheeseburger is just too healthy, the Ramly Burger is euthanasia with your choice of sauce.

And you worry about melamine?

If anything should be put to sleep, it's pasar malams, which have been a blight on the Singapore heartland for long enough. Now, they already appear to be on life support.

The Straits Times reported on Tuesday that the number of night market vendors have fallen in recent years due to the high cost and poor business.

Should we be concerned? Do we really need pasar malams?

Sure, in the pre-shopping centre '60s and '70s, pasar malams were our Takashimayas and Suntec City Malls.

Nowadays, we can get cheaply-made merchandise and fat-laden snacks in any of the suburban shopping centres conveniently located around the island.

There was a time when I would go to pasar malams just to check out the latest pirated movies and computer software. But the authorities eventually put an end to that, which is fine because we now have the Internet.

And whatever nostalgic or 'heritage' value pasar malams once had has been squandered, like the way the Star Wars prequels squandered our once dependable gullibility to watch anything with 'Star Wars' in the title. Clone Wars, anyone?

So I, for one, look forward to saying good night to the night markets for good.

For no other reason than to be free of the evil Ramly Burger once and for all.

- The New Paper, 30 October 2008