This was apparently to "preserve the state's food heritage".
How is this different from the Bumiputera policy?
If you discriminate based on race or nationality instead of ability or meritocracy, then what you will end up with are local hawkers. But are they able?
Not to say that ALL foreign hawkers will be good, but I would rather have one foreign hawker who managed to master a local dish than 100 local hawkers who are in it because it is a protected job that they can do without having to worry about competition from foreigners.
That said, yes, currently there are no "gatekeepers" to ensure that hawkers who run their stalls are capable let alone able to authentically replicate the food of yester-years - regardless of whether they are local or foreign.... well, no "gatekeepers" except for their customers.
If this policy is intended to ensure that hawker food are authentic, why is it necessary. If there are authentic local hawkers, they will blow away the non-authentic foreign hawkers.
If you need to protect the local hawkers, it may well mean that the local hawkers are not much better than the foreign hawkers.
And the net effect of this policy is simply to protect the incompetent local hawkers. How is this better for the customers?
I would rather have an authentic tasty szechuan mala hot pot provided by a foreign hawker, than a bad, tasteless, laksa by a local hawker. And if I could get a good, tasty, authentic laksa at hawker prices, I won't care if the hawker is local or foreign.
A comment from the Food Editor is here.