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NTUC apologises after iftar mix-up
Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote in A Kind Take that it’s great that NTUC was providing free iftar packages for Muslims to break fast during Ramadan.
Makan is a great way of breaking barriers and sharing free food? Even better.
It’s not the quantity that matters, it is the act of giving that makes it so wholesome.
But an employee from the national supermarket chain apparently didn’t get that memo.
This week, social media went into a tizzy when an Indian-Malay Muslim couple posted on Facebook about how they were turned away from an iftar collection point at the NTUC at Our Tampines Hub by a worker who said to them “No India, only Malay” and told them repeatedly “India cannot take”.
The couple, Jahabar Shalih, 36 and his wife Farah Nadya, 35, later told CNA that it was frustrating to be shooed away with their two young children.
NTUC apologised and said that the employee has been counselled.
Reactions online were mixed, with some professing surprise that there are still people unaware of the difference between race and religion, and others putting the blame on the supermarket chain for not training its workers appropriately.
One redditor commented: “For an organisation that is an advocate of training, hiring, workers and cohesiveness, and running a highly culturally sensitive campaign, the first and most basic thing they should have done is to hire and train right and have appropriate supervision no less. I don’t blame the uncle – he’s probably unaware, less educated, exposed and untrained.”
The couple also stressed that the intention wasn’t to get anyone in trouble.
Jahabar told CNA: “My wife really felt that (the incident) should be brought up. The reason is not to discredit the staff or to have anything done, but being accountable to my son who was there… who is asking such questions now.”
I think that incidents like these, while distasteful, can be turned into an opportunity to be better. I applaud the Shalih family for doing the right thing: To speak up when needed, and to channel that criticism in a non-toxic, constructive and ultimately positive way.
It is also a good reminder for NTUC that employee training and education is needed to fully ensure the success of its charitable actions.
Sin Ming condo-lences
Talking about distasteful incidents, Singaporeans were aghast when a video appeared of a Sin Ming condo resident shouting at a security guard for wheel-clamping his car, which had been parked illegally overnight.
In a remarkable case of self-ownage, it turned out that the video came to light after the irate resident himself shared his video to a condo group chat, ostensibly to garner support for his tirade.
Ironically, and to no one’s surprise but his own, he was roundly chastised for his rudeness and entitlement when someone baotoh-ed him and leaked the video to the papers.
It seems that every now and then, a video of such entitled behaviour springs to light. And when we read it, we often think “my goodness, what a nasty piece of work”, followed closely by some version of “I’m so glad I’m not like that”. Or if we were truly being honest, “thank goodness, no one captured my bad moments on camera”.
I watched the video, and in some weird way, I can understand how the resident felt that he was in the right. Now, this is in no way justifying what he did – he certainly behaved badly and the things he said to the security manager is one reason why the tension between Singapore’s haves and the have-nots can get so strained.
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I’ve been told before that “oh, you shouldn’t blame people for what they say when they are angry; they don’t really mean it.”
True, sometimes we do say things that we regret; hurtful words that we blurt out in the heat of the moment, designed to win the argument or to wound the opponent.
While there is some leeway to that, very often, a person’s inner thoughts spill out when anger rises and filters fall away. That is the moment when true character shows.
To misuse a common Latin phrase, “in furia veritas” – in fury, there is truth.
The Sin Ming condo resident’s ire rose when he was not treated the way he felt he was entitled as a resident who owns “more than two units”. That is telling. He further gaslighted the security manager, accusing him of not letting him pick his son from school (when his car was illegally parked) and told him in Mandarin to “…just fall sick. You’re already this poor, you like to die anyway”.
He was so convinced of being in the right that he even made a police report!
We’ve all encountered nasty behaviour like this. When that happens, keep calm, and if you can’t walk away, find a way to defuse the situation.
Kudos to the security manager for keeping his cool under pressure (and in the rain too). I’m glad that the Union of Security Employees spoke up to defend the security staff.
I hope this incident will serve as a reminder that money can’t buy you class.
Talking about money issues, a report recent appeared on how a 57-year-old food delivery rider said that he earned $90 working 11 hours a day.
That’s a drop of almost 50 per cent in earnings as compared to the pandemic.
Another delivery rider in his 30s told Shin Min that working 40 hours a week is already considered very little. He said: “Many people work very hard and can work more than 12 hours a day. Those who are hardworking and who don’t rest, can earn well if they work for seven days consecutively.”
Last November, the Institute of Policy Studies published a report of 1,002 food delivery platform riders that said earnings from food delivery tended to be modest, ranging from less than $1,000 a month (23.6%) to around $1,925, which was the median income. A very small proportion (3.2%) earned $5,000 and above a month.
We sometimes read laudatory stories about how much people can earn “as long as they hustle”; it’s not always the case. The sad reality is that there are many people in Singapore who are working as hard as they can, but still have trouble making ends meet.
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How do we know what is going on in their lives? The truth is, we can’t.
We should make the effort to be kind as much as possible, as often as possible to people in the service industry – be it F&B, hospitality, retail, or whether they are delivering a parcel or your meal.
Life gets tough. There’s no point making life harder for others if we can help it.
Be patient while waiting at the clinic or A&E, be polite when asking questions or giving instructions to hospitality staff. Have a smile for the overworked waiter or the hassled retail assistant. Offer a drink on a hot day for your delivery rider or leave a tip for your private-hire driver.
There are many ways of showing appreciation – small acts of kindness don’t just brighten their day; it makes yours better too.
Star Awards and special needs
In this week’s Star Awards, long-running series Your Hand In Mine walked away with multiple awards, including Best Actor for Richie Koh for his compelling performance as a 21-year-old with the intellectual age of a seven-year-old.
The 29-year-old actor thanked his family and everyone in the production, saying in Mandarin: “I believe every actor wants to get a challenging role like this. Being able to tell the story of a kid with an intellectual disability has been my honour.”
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He later posted on Instagram a photo of the two children he met before the show started, writing “You guys have been an inspiration to me, for the show and many! Thank you to both of you and your families for sharing your story to us.”
It is always wonderful to see how children and adults with special needs are gaining more visibility in society in a positive way.
Friends of ASD Families
In line with that, last Sunday, 20 families from local ground-up movement Friends of ASD Families gathered at Anchorvale Community Club in Sengkang to celebrate autism acceptance.
To promote its Autism Appreciation Project, the parents guided their children with autism to fold towels into cute little teddy bears and handed them out to visitors at Anchorvale CC and Sengkang Sports Centre.
Sun Meilan, a parent of a youth with autism and founder of Friends of ASD Families said: “To be honest, it took courage for some of us to do this. After all, engaging the public proactively was a big departure from our usual tendency to minimise or avoid any contact in case people mind certain behaviour of our children.
“We are relieved that many members of the public were pleasantly surprised by our gesture and we took the opportunity to seek their support and understanding when they see autistic children and youths out and about in the community!”