Oftentimes, the BBC’s “From Our Own Correspondents” program gets my goat. This is because more often than not, what the correspondents write and/or verbalise on air are nothing more than impressions, anecdotes and completely subjective.
Worse, more often than not, instead of taking these “personal impressions” with a pinch of salt, fans of the Beeb take what its correspondents including “stringers” — that is free-lancers wanting to earn a quick buck — write as gospel truth.
Worst is when the citizens of the country, born and bred, take what these Beeb flighty free-lancers say about their own homeland — or island as our case is — as the starting point for deep soul searching.
But lagi worse than worst (if there is a fourth degree of “bad”) is when our government ministers (Tan Chuan-Jin and Lawrence Wong) who should have more between their ears than most Singaporeans (I hope anyway) can actually come out and endorse what’s been said by no more qualified an observer than a Beeb freelancer 🙄
And by their endorsement adds to that very graphic Chinese proverb about using the bamboo pole to hit a boatload of innocent people.
I am of course referring to the account given by one Charlotte Ashton who appears to have lived in SG for all of 3 months and who because of one incident has written as though the other 1001 kindly acts she’s encountered don’t matter.
And trust our SPH Sunday Times to go to town with this woman’s complaint. And trust our sometimes sung-yang ministers to endorse or at least agree that one person’s bad experience means all of us could do better — on the courtesy and consideration front.
I am completely flummoxed that the ST or the ministers didn’t ask whether Ms Ashton had opened her mouth and said “help” in the best of clipped Brit accent? Or whether her pregnancy wasn’t that obvious at 10 weeks? Two points that this blogger raised with no sweat and which I heartily endorse.
Did Ms Ashton ask for a seat and was ignored? If that’s the case, why didn’t she state it in her article? Was she too sick to ask? If so, couldn’t she have used hand signals?
Someone should tell her that playing Desdamona in any big city, not only SG, will help her to avoid the same experience she complained of here, 90% of the time. Hasn’t she heard of the cliche that there is only the quick and the dead in New York?
Also, sometimes people are wary of attractive Caucasian women who suddenly curl up into a ball in a crowded public place. Who knows if it’s for real or for Candid Camera or Gotcha and the Good Samaritan is made a fool for cheap laughs and audience ratings!
Anyway, I find that whenever I ask, I always receive. In supermarkets, when I can’t reach the top shelves, I ask men and tall women fellow customers for help and haven’t been refused once. Some even ask politely if there’s anything else that I need on those elusive shelves. 😆
On the MRT and buses, I often get seats without asking. The offers come from both sexes in age that ranges from kids to uncles and aunties who can’t be that much younger than me.
And when I am carrying stuff, I ask right away when there are no empty seats and I have several stops to go. But I am sometimes pre-empted by offers as soon as I step into the bus or MRT carriage. Perhaps because I tend to wear a Desdamona-like look?
When I am driving and need to change lanes, which given the non-stop roadworks in SG nowadays, is often, I look into the back mirror and side mirrors to smile my request to drivers behind and beside me. In addition to signalling of course. I often also clasp my hands in supplication to underline my request.
Fellow drivers give way almost 100% of the time and the insignificant minority who don’t I decide probably need to be on their way urgently and not because they suffer from compassion deficit.
In Hongkong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Bangkok, Bali, even in San Francisco and New York, I ask for directions, if I am uncertain rather than work it out myself. Ditto in my own country, because I don’t have a google map in my brain.
At the end of the day, if you need help, you must ask, unless you are comatose.
Finally, what does it say about the courtesy level of the guest who disses the host country so publicly and petulantly when by her own account it was all hunky dory till that incident.
Time people like Ms Ashton learn that into lives some rain must fall. So carry an umbrella or quit belly-aching!