What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say “Pasar Malam”? For me, cheap street food would be my first thought. Without a doubt, pasar malams are home to cheap and good street or finger foods. In addition, they also sell lots of cheap stuff and provide entertainment to many kids. Although they are pretty common around Singapore, I bet that there are some things that people probabaly might not know about them. If you know, well, good for you.
1) Ramly Burgers are not the real deal
Fun Fact time! Do you know that Ramly burgers are banned in Singapore? This means that all those Ramly Burgers that you eat at the pasar malams are all not the real deal, other than the wrappers. One reason for this is because one of the beef sources of Ramly burgers comes from India, which is not one of the approved soruces of beef by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore. So those yummy Ramly burger beef patties you are eating comes from local brands like Sultan Burger ot Tasty, to name a few.
2) Pasar Malams are not just available in Singapore and Malaysia
It is common knowledge that pasar malams are common in both Singapore and Malaysia but I bet no one knows that they are also seen in other countries. For instance, pasar malams can be found in Java, especially in Javanese royal cities Yogyakarta and Surakarta. They would hold a week-long pasar malam to celebrate celebrate Mawlid or the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.
The Netherlands also hold pasar malams in the Hague, except that they call it the Pasar Malam Besar. This was met with huge success and since 1959, dozens of pasar malam are held each year in the Netherlands.
3) The first pasar malam was held in the mid-1950s
The first ever pasar malam was established in the mid-1950s near British military bases, in the vicinity of Jalan Kayu, Sembawang and Keppel Harbour. They were mainly organised by hawkers on a weekly basis in order to coincide with the payday of workers at the military bases.
4) Pasar Malam was once discontinued
This actually happened all the way back in 1970s, when I did not exist then. The pasar malams were phased out mainly because they had caused health and pollution problems as well as traffic jams and inconvenience to the residents. As such, all the pasar malams hawkers were forced to move to hawker centres. Thankfully, they were resurrected in the 1980s, but with strict control and licensing.
5) It is very troublesome to set up a pasar malam permit
In order to set up a pasar malam, once must apply for a trade fair permit from the National Environment Agency (NEA), obtain the consensus of the shopkeepers in the neighbourhood to hold the trade fair in a public area, and apply to the town council for the use of the site if it is held in a common area. One must also apply and seek approval from the Singapore Civil Defence Force and obtain written approval from other relevant authorities. All in all, one has to seek approval from at least five or more relevant authorities in order to get a pasar malam going.
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