OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Pasar Malam reinvented UPDATED 13/12

Local night markets are still common in Singapore. Let's make them truly local by having citizens contribute to what's on offer.

Photo of DeletedUser
19 12

Written by DeletedUser

The idea is to turn passive citizens active in a way that is not forced or painful for them, by integrating community activities/activism into the national past times of shopping, eating and meeting friends.

Step1: Create a happening that gets the general public into the public space.

Step2: Encourage and facilitate for people to take part, interact and connect.

Step3: Within interaction, integrate activities and discussions that build and benefit the community.

Step1: A market is, in itself, a happening that gets people into the public space. The existing Pasar Malam already has a large fan base; the reinvented Pasar Malam just builds on and develops a well-established concept.

Existing Pasar Malam: Lots of people love them. Reasons: temporary, fun, random, “happening”, food, outdoor market like in the old days (reviving the kampong spirit). It seems a lot of people go for the activity of a market rather than the actual products for sale. Problems: lack of staff and high rental (according to organiser).

Step2: Reinvented Pasar Malam: Citizens can take part in a flea/designer market way by selling second hand clothes and bags, their own designs, home cooked food etc. Citizens take active part in community activity (they do it for their own benefit, but outcome is the same.)

Step3: Market facilitates workshops, provides space for interaction (and topics for discussion?), and sets up a stage for performances and jamming sessions. I.e. provides best possible environment for people to connect and community spirit to grow. Step3 accomplished: people learn to recycle and reuse through workshop, discuss important community issues over a shared meal and most importantly: they bond with their neighbours.

Market layout:

Original Pasar Malam remains but expands to include more interaction space, a stage and workshop space. They also provide empty space/stalls for citizens to sell food, second hand items etc.

Some kinds of stalls/activities are set up by the organiser as well as by the public.

- Food stalls

- Vintage/second hand clothes and bags

- Local design items

- Music

Some kinds of stalls are only by the public (but website for keeping track of items may be provided by organiser).

- Lend & borrow

Organiser should provide the interaction sections.

- Stage for performance/jamming sessions

- Workshop space and facilitation (upcycling, planting and growing etc.)

- Eating area (for potluck, discussions, recipe sharing etc.) and/or other bonding activity (suggestions see below)


Perhaps the government could sponsor some rental cost for community benefit. Staff issues and wages solved as public will be selling their own things.


The market will evolve over time, as some sections most likely will be more popular with the public than others. But as a market is temporary in nature it will not be a big problem for the organiser to allow for it to change.

The market may become a regular go-to for tips and advice on sustainability and household money saving. It can hold workshops for school children during the day when the market is not open.

The workshops, stage and socialising/discussion space will need some initial input and care in order to communicate to the public what they are.

- There would most likely be a lot of interest in a workshop if it is set up and advertised the right way.

- The same goes for the stage as there are lots of aspiring young musicians in Singapore who would be interested in performing.

- To encourage socialising, here are some thoughts on what could trigger people to talk to strangers (neighbours): potluck (Hao Dinh's dish-in, dish-out), layout like cocktail party, for mingling, playground for kids (parents will talk), exhibiting plans on future development of area.

Initial post:
The night markets travelling around the city these days are professional businesses selling standardised food and cheap, low quality clothing and toys.
How about turning them into flea markets where people can sell second-hand clothing, designer bags and shoes, where local talent can sell their artwork or designers try their concepts on a small scale. There could be a Lend&Borrow section for items such as tools, ladders, baby items etc, and the food section would be an excellent place for aspiring chefs and bakers to try their recipes and for grannies to share their traditional dishes.

Both flea markets and designer markets are quite common to find in Singapore today and very popular with the young. Lots of people bake or cook as a hobby and, I think, would love to make a little bit of extra cash and have a reason to bake for others. Personally, I would love the Lend&Borrow section! Everybody in Singapore is tight for space and I love lending things to friends purely to have the items out of my house for a while.

How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

The setting of a market is, in itself, a good place for people to meet and connect. The market will create a connected, inspired and enabled community that will take more initiative because they care, have knowledge and feel involved. The citizens, market organiser (private sector) and local government will be interdependent on each other in order to pull off the happening (which is in everybody's interest but for different reasons).

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

The market travels around Singapore, continuously connecting with new people and connecting them with the fans that follow it around.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

It would be best to tag along with the existing Pasar Malam. The scale of it ensures lots of visitors and would be a good place to find out the level of interest from citizens. However, the main target group of the new concept may be slightly different from that of the traditional market so the word of the new concept would need to be spread.


Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Maria & Team - we're so sorry that we may have lost some of the updates to this concept over the last 72 hours - we lost the AWS server stack which included the backup and even after working through the night some updates escaped us. We have put in place some measures to ensure that this won't happen again.

We've extended the Refinement Phase to the 27th to give everyone extra time to re-upload their content and to push your concept even further - apologies again if you did lose any updates...

View all comments