SINGAPORE: More than two million people visited the annual Geylang Serai Hari Raya Bazaar this year, the highest number recorded and surpassing the 1.8 million visitors in 2018.
The bazaar was a success, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Saturday (Jun 22) at Wisma Geylang Serai’s (WGS) Hari Raya dinner.
He added that the bazaar is an example of how WGS, a social and cultural heritage hub, has succeeded in creating a unique cultural identity for the area.
"Singapore may be a small country ... but each place has its own character and culture. Each place has its own unique identity and history," Mr Wong said.
"That is especially the case for Geylang Serai ... This is a place that is rich in history, it is perhaps the oldest Malay settlement in Singapore. And so it is a place that is very close to the hearts of our Malay community in Singapore.
"Over the years it has evolved and developed, not just into a place for the Malay community, but also a vibrant community space that reflects our multi-racial and and our multi-religious heritage and culture and society. But at the same time, Geylang Serai continues to be a place that is special for the Malay community, showcasing the rich Malay culture and heritage."
Of the 500 stalls this year, 60 per cent of food stalls and 80 per cent of non-food stalls focused on traditional Malay items.
For the first time, all food stalls had to be either Muslim-owned or certified halal by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) following feedback from the previous year.
Organisers also revised the guidelines to include a rental cap of S$14,000 per stall.
In his speech on Saturday, Mr Wong said that great places in the world are not defined by just its physical buildings.
"A great place ultimately is defined by its people, by the community and by the spirit of our people and the community," Mr Wong said.
"So the work that all of us have to do ahead of us is really to come together, think of what activities, what programmes, how Geylang Serai can truly showcase the vibrant culture and heritage of the Malay community in Singapore and also of our broader Singaporean society."
Mr Wong called on the community to continue to support the Geylang Serai precinct development, a project helmed by Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman.
Dr Maliki said that WGS has had many requests from organisations to utilise the premises, contributing to the steady increase of footfall there.
He added that from January to April this year, more than 105,000 visitors from all races have visited WGS since it was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Jan 26.
For the second half of the year, Dr Maliki said WGS has plans for a nostalgic Satay Club Bazaar, as well as a Bicentennial National Day @ Heartlands exhibition in August, where mobile columns from the Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team will be on display.