Someone sent me a video clip of a PRC lady who was serving customers at Food Republic. The person filming it was scolding the PRC lady for not being able to speak English. He could be heard proudly declaring “this is my country’’. “If you can’t speak English go back to your country”, he rudely told her off. He continued to taunt her despite her efforts to ignore his behaviour. I went online and found the video being shared. Some were sympathetic towards her. Others, however, also got self-righteous and said Singapore has no place for these PRC people.
Now is that the way to go? Have we forgotten how our forefathers came here, many not knowing English or even Mandarin, working hard, learning to adapt, embracing the country we come to love over time. Granted, if a business wants to do well and serves its customers well, language proficiency is a good skill to have. But do we have to film, harass, taunt and then try to shame a poor PRC woman who was obviously embarrassed and shaken by such behaviour? It would be more reasonable if the person had offered kind advice to the staff that she should try to pick up some language skills to improve her service standard to non-Chinese speaking customers.
But to get nasty and self-righteous, to say “this is my country and get lost if you’re not like me” is totally mean. It shows the lack of class in the arrogant person himself. I would even call him a bully. Mandarin is after all an official language in Singapore. Many of our parents and grandparents still only speak their own dialects, Mandarin, Tamil or Malay. Does that make them less Singaporean?
As we progressed in life and learnt English, have we forgotten how to be kind? For that record, most Singaporeans don’t speak good English, or Mandarin for that matter. At least that PRC lady is good in one language.
We have done well as a nation in the last five decades because we embrace others, we welcome immigrants who work hard and want to build their lives here. They are not here for us to abuse, film and shame and put on social media. It is no point having done well economically and not knowing how to treat another human being properly.
There are times when I am not proud of us Singaporeans.