Mr. Eric Chua, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC
Dr. Stephen Tong, CEO of Bethesda Medical,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be here with you to celebrate the official opening of Margaret Market.
Markets - a microcosm of our society
2. For many of us here today, being here is like taking a step back in time. You would probably recognise the distinctive vaulted high ceiling that is characteristic of Singapore’s old markets.
3. This used to be the former Commonwealth Avenue Wet Market Food Centre. Built in 1956 and opened in 1960, the building has been gazetted for conservation by the URA. It is the only remaining market building in Singapore constructed by the Singapore Improvement Trust.
a. Our local neighbourhood markets serve as a microcosm of Singapore’s multicultural society.
b. They are often the favourite spot in the estate where friends and neighbours from all walks of life congregate.
c. It is a common sight to see neighbours catching up over coffee or bumping into each other while running an errand in the market.
d. The re-opening of this building invigorates the Queenstown estate and brings residents a fresh concept of the local neighbourhood market.
Fresh take on the local neighbourhood market
4. Now called “Margaret Market”, the site has been transformed into a vibrant and lively community space for Queenstown residents, and offers a fresh take on the modern neighbourhood market.
a. supports local entrepreneurs and heartland enterprises, and I was happy to meet some of these entrepreneurs just now and to hear more from you.
b. With various programmes lined up for the community, such as, I am sure this space will become part of residents’ everyday lives and act as an important communal space for Queenstown residents to come gather.
From local fare to curating programmes for the community
5. Here, we not only find a selection of local food but also health, beauty and fitness services. What also differentiates Margaret Market is the role it will play in curating health, arts and culture programmes for the local community. In addition, the market is an entrepreneurial and nurturing space for homegrown enterprises, from traditional TCM to novel food concepts, as well as home-bakers now turned stall owners.
A home to home-grown brands
6. I’m delighted to know that the old Fung Onn Medical Store, which used to be down the road at Tanglin Halt for over 50 years, is now in Margaret Market helmed by Mr Chee Kim Boon.
7. There is a lively mix of the old and new in Margaret Market. Another homegrown enterprise, Urban Folks sells DIY acai bowls and Australian-inspired ‘jaffles’.
a. Its owner, Ms Vernetta Fong, was inspired to locate her shop here as it reminded her of the farmers’ market culture she had experienced in Melbourne.
Supporting our heartland enterprises
8. I can see the potential of a vibrant market culture forming here as our local enterprises and brands get a chance to incubate and grow. With access to HDB-owned spaces like Margaret Market, small businesses like home bakers can take the plunge to set up shop and expand their footprint and customer reach in the heartlands.
a. Mr Johnson Ong’s Homme Baker is one example. He started Homme Baker during the COVID-19 pandemic as a home-based business selling artisanal cakes. It gained popularity quickly. Today, its physical storefront here has attracted new eyeballs and customers.
Our Heartland Shops
9. Our heartland shops form a unique part of life in Singapore and are close to the homes and hearts of many Singaporeans. These shops fulfill the needs of residents by providing essential products and services at affordable rates right in their neighbourhoods.
10. As heartland enterprises and entrepreneurs adapt and transform to better connect with younger generations of consumers, new ideas and concepts are at the same time emerging. This is what we are seeing in Margaret Market. We now have traditional kaya and kopi joints like Yakun co-located with craft beer bistro Margie, and with a 24-hour gym and digital health booth – all under one roof.
11. The Government is strongly committed to supporting the growth and future of our heartland enterprises. It is with this aim that we launched the $50m Our Heartlands 2025 programme last year. I trust that this concerted drive to develop our heartland shops will strengthen and bring these enterprises to new levels of growth and transformation.
12. It is encouraging to see the progress that heartland enterprises have made. Today, about 9 in 10 of these enterprises now offer at least one e-payment solution.
13. Margaret Market is a testament to how our heartland enterprise landscape is evolving and progressing with the times. I trust that this fresh concept of the local market will bring residents together in a new way, and look forward to it becoming a focal point for the Queenstown community and heart for thriving heartland entrepreneurship.