Ugly Singaporeans sighted at the zoo
latest letter/article is at the top. The letter/article that started the
debate is right below.
of a letter by LIEW Kim Siong, Senior Manager, Corporate
Communications, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd to Forum, The Straits
Times of 16 Mar 2001
Press Holdings (SPH) organised the party at the zoo on Sunday, 11
Mar 2001, for our readers to celebrate the 10th anniversary of
Friday Weekly and the first anniversary of Thumbs-Up, which are
Chinese weekly newspapers published by SPH for secondary and primary
school students, respectively.
| More than 10,000 guests turned
up to join in the celebrations.
| Due to the overwhelming
response and some unexpected crowd behaviour, event-management
resources at the zoo were undeniably stretched.
| I would like to assure Ms ONG
and our readers that SPH will take extra care and effort to ensure
better crowd management when it organises similar events in future.
| On the main point raised by Ms
ONG regarding the situation at the T-shirt exchange booth, we took
immediate action to remedy the situation, bearing in mind the safety
of our guests while not wanting to disappoint those present.
| Announcements were made
requesting that guests write down their particulars on the exchange
coupons so that we could arrange for the T-shirts to be collected,
instead of having to queue up for them. This helped to ease the
| I thank all the guests who
attended our party for their support.
LIEW Kim Siong, Senior
Manager, Corporate Communications, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
of a letter by Raja Mitra to Forum, The Straits Times of 16 Mar
...These are the
people who hustle past pedestrians on their bicycles and oftern push
them off the pavement, barge into MRT train compartments as soon as
the doors open and before those inside can get out, talk into their
mobile phones at cinemas, behave boorishly with customers if they
happen to be in a service-oriented job, and chew and munch their
food noisily on public transport.
| All of these behavioural
patterns, and more, are indicative of an attitude and a philosophy
| It is an attitude which is
completely self-centred and self-serving, refuses to recognise
virtues like consideration, grace and courtesy towards fellow human
beings and neighbours, and views qualities like grace and kindness
| In short, it runs counter to
the fundamental tenets of a civilised society.
| Being gracious, courteous and
helpful is a matter of inner conviction.
| Despite millions of dollars
spent on campaigns designed to educate and persuade such people to
change their behaviour, little progress has been made.
| There is a feeling of deja vu
when one reads about the several instances of boorish and rude
behaviour highlighted by various readers in The Straits Times
recently. These occurrences and behavioural manifestations were
generally the same in the past as well. The law of the jungle is in
| Messages and gentle persuasion
to switch to a gentler, more gracious and civilised way of life are
ignored and the contagion of boorish behaviour spreads quickly.
| Witness the bad behaviour of
many pre-teens and teenagers, who have obviously picked it up from
their elders, and you will see what I am getting at.
| There is an urgent need to
think of, and implement deterrents.
| Where gentle messages and
persuasion have clearly failed, stronger messages which shame and
horrify may prove to be more effective.
| Also, more effective
implementation of existing deterrent measures would go a long way in
setting the tone for a society which aims to be widely perceived as
civilised, gracious , considerate and kind.
| The converse is too horrifying
to be considered.
Full-text of a
letter by Cherly ONG Tze-I to Forum, The Straits Times of 14 Mar 2001
| I saw things which almost
made me ashamed to be Singaporean at the Friday Weekly-Thumbs Up
Birthday Party organised by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) at the
zoo on Sunday.
| There were lots of free gifts
and games which were supposed to be enjoyed by one and all but,
instead, were dominated by the breed of Singaporeans we have been
trying hard to get rid of: The Ugly Singaporean.
| At the game stalls, there was
constant pushing, shoving and cutting into queues.
| People at the front of the
queues were pulling their family members in, ignoring others who
had queued for a long time.
| What disgusted me even more
was seeing grown women cut right to the front of the line, in
front of helpless children who were too scared to object.
| Many children were reduced to
tears because of the inconsiderate and barbaric behaviour of these
adults. And for what? To play a game.
| Those at the front of the
queues also hogged the games by producing stacks of coupons, when
there were many who had not even had a try, all for the sake of
getting the stuffed toys given away as prizes.
| As the stalls started
closing, some people even broke through the barriers to grab the
remaining toys, despite protests from staff.
| At the T-shirt redemption
booth, it was sheer mayhem.
| Again adults were trying to
cut into the queue, pulling their spouses and children in to get
as many free T-shirts as possible - even though the coupons stated
that the T-shirts were meant for children under 18.
| Instead the majority of the
queue was made up of parents, maids and grandmothers, who were
obviously well over the age of 18.
| Staff members tried to herd
the crowd into neat lines, but to no avail.
| One man yelled frantically
into his walkie-talkie: "I need more resources over at the
T-shirt booth. There's going to be chaos."
| And chaos it was. As the
crowd surged forward, tempers flared and pushing became so violent
the booth almost toppled over.
| The wooden bridge the crowd
was standing on sagged with the weight, children were squashed
against the railings and were wailing in discomfort.
| The distribution of T-shirts
stopped only when the situation got out of control and dark clouds
| My family and I left quickly
before things got worse.
| What I do not understand is
why people are willing to risk life and limb - not necessarily
their own - just to get free things.
| Are we that poor that we have
to resort to such means to get T-shirts?
| While I encourage the
organisation of such activities, I feel SPH could have handled the
situation better by having security personnel on standby, and by
ensuring that only those eligible for free gifts received them.
| All this happened despite
active campaigning for a more courteous Singapore, and the
nation's leaders stressing the need for a gracious society.
| In reality, we have a long
way to go.
| I am sure many, like me, were
at the zoo simply to spend an afternoon taking part in the various
activities at the party, or to see the animals.
| The only animals I saw,
however, were those ugly Singaporeans.
Cheryl ONG Tze-I