SilkAir finally recruiting male stewards

From ‘SilkAir to finally have male cabin crew’, 1 March 2015, article by Karamjit Kaur, Sunday Times

After 26 years of having only women cabin crew, SilkAir has decided to let the men in as well.

…The major shift is necessary because it has become “increasingly difficult” to attract “the right (women) candidates with the qualities that we uphold”, SilkAir said in a recent e-mail to staff.

Amid an overall manpower crunch, the airline told staff that it also has to compete for stewardesses with other local and foreign carriers, such as parent Singapore Airlines, budget carriers Tigerair and Jetstar Asia, as well as Middle Eastern airlines Emirates and Qatar Airways.

…SilkAir’s decision to hire air stewards is a “positive and long-awaited” move, said Associate Professor Seshan Ramaswami, who teaches marketing at the Singapore Management University.

…SilkAir’s new hiring policy “reflects a moving away from a stereotype that only women are suitable for these flight crew duties on board”, he added. At the end of the day, what is critical is the training, he pointed out.

The men, whose uniforms are now being designed, will be subject to the same recruitment terms and 14-week training period as the women, who don one-piece lime green or rustic red wrap dresses, the airline’s spokesman said.

On why SilkAir never hired air stewards before this, she said: “Our earlier strategy was to hire women crew who embodied nurturing characteristics in line with the SilkAir experience we aimed to provide customers.”

According to the SilkAir recruitment ad, the airline requires the following: Cabin crew with a ‘combination of grace and a warm smile’ to provide excellent and attentive service to our customers’,  ‘grace’ and ‘warm’ being adjectives that are not often associated with the male sex, and really serve as a hint that women have always been preferred without explicitly stating that men need not apply. The real reason why SilkAir relaxed their females-only hire policy here is that they’re short of staff, i.e male cabin crew are an afterthought.

Given that other airlines have no problem with stewards, one wonders if SilkAir’s outdated profiling of the female sex as ‘nurturing’ as their rationale for not hiring men comes across as discriminatory practice. According to the Tripartite hiring guidelines, you’re discouraged from recruiting staff based on gender, among other things like race or language, and if there’s a strict gender policy it should be reflected and explained in the ad for clarity. There’s no evidence that SilkAir’s service needs to be differentiated from the rest by having, literally, a feminine touch. If you’re Hooters Air, I’d probably understand.

While we laud such moves as ‘progressive’ and ‘fair practice’, we shouldn’t forget to ask: Why only now, SilkAir? Even airlines from Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait Airways have gotten over the gender hump, for goodness sake. Thailand even has an airline (PC Air) that takes pride in hiring TRANSGENDERS.  Interestingly, SilkAir was the first local airline to break the gender stereotype in 2001 by hiring Singapore’s first female pilot. Yet the papers neglected to mention that at the same time they were hanging on to the traditional concepts of female compassion, empathy and motherly instincts by keeping their cabins testosterone free, with a staff profile resembling more like hospital ward nurses and midwives in the 1950s than a modern cabin crew.

If men didn’t have a ‘nurturing’ bone in their body, we wouldn’t see them volunteering in old folks’ homes, babysitting, nursing, feeding baby tiger cubs or being masseurs. In fact, there are times when you do need some manly muscle in the cabin e.g when there’s a drunk rowdy passenger who needs to be strapped down, or if some guy gets his crotch stuck in the zipper in the lavatory. Stuff which you can’t accomplish with ‘grace’ and warm smiles alone.


Hard-selling Beijing 101 not accredited by CASE

From ’15 complaints lodged this year against Beijing 101′, 15 Nov 2014, article by Melissa Lin/Amir Hussain ST

Singapore’s consumer watchdog has received 15 complaints against Beijing 101 so far this year. This includes the one made on Monday by Madam Susan Koo Moi, 75, who said she was pressured into signing a $15,600 package with the hair-care centre last month.

Most of the complaints were about its hard-sell tactics to persuade consumers to buy more hair-related packages, said Consumers Association of Singapore’s (Case) executive director, Mr Seah Seng Choon. Beijing 101 could not be reached for comment.

The Straits Times reported yesterday that Madam Koo had gone to Beijing 101’s Funan Mall outlet last month hoping to use a $50 voucher, but ended up paying $4,000 as a deposit for a package.

…Beijing 101 is not accredited by Case, which means it does not have to offer a five-day cooling- off period during which consumers can ask for a full refund.

“Businesses should have the conscience to give their clients a reasonable timeframe to change their minds,” said Spa and Wellness Association of Singapore honorary secretary Edward Wong. He noted, however, that firms are not legally obligated to do so.

The multi-million hair care business is not an industry known for its ‘conscience’. Beijing 101 is among the first in the country to sway the gullible public with raving celebrity endorsements, even if the said celebrity’s hair loss was due to breast CANCER  chemo. In 2003, Beijing 101 got ex Mediacorp actor Xie Shaoguang to advertise as a ‘satisfied Beijing 101 client’, who thanked them profusely for his ‘thicker and healthier-looking’ crop. Today, the man is an ordained MONK in Malaysia. Other familiar faces soon followed suit, including the late Huang Wenyong, who was paid to declare that since Beijing 101 uses ‘100% natural Chinese herbs…there will be NO adverse effects’. Well I’ll fill a tub with their tonic and just submerge my bloody head in it then.

Giving freebies to snag customers is a sales tactic that has been used since the 80’s. Svenson, the hair experts whose name no 75 year old vainpot is able to pronounce, launched what was known as ‘Hair Week’ with free consultation services. Also, no before and after picture in those days was complete without a full, macho beard. Today, you just have a sad balding face (before) and a happy winner ready to take on the world (after).

Your money HAIR today, gone tomorrow

Your money HAIR today, gone tomorrow

Not much has changed since the swinging 50’s. A luscious, crowning glory has traditionally been viewed as the glorious symbol of a man’s success and attractiveness. Before hair care consultants emerged, you could harvest a head of shiny, healthy hair in the comfort of your home, using a bottle of Vaseline tonic no less, a trusted formula that keeps your hair ‘perfumed, cool and fresh’. Today’s Vaseline can also be used at the other end of your body, for callused toes.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 10.06.30 AM

For an empire that has been operating for 40 years and having its fair share of complaints, largely unregulated by the authorities when it comes to product effectiveness or safety, the least I would expect as a client who also happens to be an adoring fan of Zheng Guoping or Chen Shucheng, is some form of basic consumer protection. But it’s not just unscrupulous practices that we should watch out for. In 2010, a couple of its hair growth tonics were found to contain undeclared minoxidil, a ‘Western’ drug that has been approved for use in male-pattern baldness. In other words, the ‘natural power’ of premium Chinese herbs as so claimed was horseshit. The typical Beijing 101 customer may be balding, but what our self-proclaimed consumer ‘watchdog’ is severely lacking, despite such incidents, is a set of TEETH. If not, hopelessly DEBARKED.

Hair care centres like Beijing 101 or Yunnam should be classified under the ‘Spa and Wellness’ scheme under CaseTrust, but you don’t find either listed. Instead, the level of ‘assurance’ you get as a customer of Yunnam are brand awards like ‘Trusted Brand’ or ‘Most Effective Brand’. Beijing 101 is more discreet of its accolades, with a tiny ‘Most Preferred’ logo (2012) on the top right corner of its website. How about ‘Most Pushy’ or ‘Shameless brand’ then? We force local news websites like The Independent or Online Citizen to apply for licences but give free rein to shameless ‘wellness’ centres that hawk their questionable wares using Mediacorp celebrities, putting the bank accounts of innocent people at risk. This despite us not knowing for sure if these actors/actresses even HAD a scalp problem in the first place. Maybe they noticed a few strands plugging the shower drain and then suddenly realised: ‘Oh God, I need my confidence back and the wardrobe people don’t have nice wigs to spare!’

Time to get to the root of the problem, CASE. We can’t have our Pioneer Generation getting scalped by unethical business practices anymore.

Seng Han Thong’s nightmare before Christmas

From ‘MP Seng not racist, says Shanmugam’, 25 Dec 2011, article by Teo Wan Gek, Sunday Times

…During a Channel NewsAsia programme Blog TV, which aired on Monday, Mr Seng made a comment which some found to be racist. He was asked about the lack of communication with passengers during the evening peak-hour breakdown of MRT trains last Thursday.

In his response, he misquoted an SMRT officer, who had earlier said: ‘Our staff at the stations and in the trains may not be making sufficient announcements and also good enough announcements. And that’s because our staff of different races, it could be Malay, Chinese, or Indians or any other race, they sometimes find it difficult to speak in English.’

But Mr Seng, when rebutting the officer’s comments, mentioned only Malay and Indian train drivers. He later clarified that he misheard the SMRT officer’s remarks, which he had heard over radio while driving.

…Mr Seng has since apologised for his remarks.

It’s Christmas Day, and instead of government officials sending well wishes or attending to holiday ‘ponding’, they’re spending time on damage control over an MP’s blooper, or Freudian slip, whatever critics want to call it. A driver who’s unable to calm passengers in the midst of an emergency breakdown is a victim of inadequate training, drills and SOPs. As an organisation with a rigid mastery over templates, surely there should be some standard announcements in place to aid anxious train drivers during disruptions.  This is all just one finger-pointing and tactless blame-shifting after another between various MPs, an SMRT vice president named Goh Chee Kong, and train drivers . If this incident and Desmond Choo’s backfired sexist anecdote tells us anything, it’s that politicians need to stop paraphrasing totally, or learn how to use the disclaimer ‘I quote’ or read excerpts out loud from pieces of paper instead.

In Seng’s defence, he seems to suggest that ‘broken English’ is OK when desperate times call for it, which runs counter to the efforts of our Speak Good English campaign, that lapsing into sub-par English is our ‘default’ setting in stressful situations, while putting on Good English politeness for mundane things such as telling someone that you need to ‘excuse yourself’ for the washroom is expected of us.  In fact, broken English/Singlish, by doing away with time-wasting grammatical formalities, would be ideal in a situation where every second counts and sounding professional should be the least of your worries. The problem is speaking English of any sort, whether broken or of the pristine BBC standard, isn’t very useful when one considers elderly passengers who would be more prone to fainting spells or injuries in the event of a disruption, in which you would have to depend on good Samaritans to do the necessary translation, provided of course that the driver is relaying the right instructions, and that passengers are not busy smashing windows for air in panic. You can bet SMRT will not be happily celebrating their annual Xmas dinner, despite earning the title of the year’s biggest turkey. Even if there was some form of celebration, you can bet no one wants to be caught pants down being treated like a pharaoh like CEO Saw Phaik Hwa in a previous DnD. You probably wouldn’t see the Dim Sum Dollies providing the night’s entertainment as well.

Seng Han Thong’s faux pas is mild compared to the remark on Indians by ex-MP and soon to be convict (twice) Choo Wee Khiang, whose atrocious joke on skin colour qualifies as true racism.  But being labelled a racist and trolled online isn’t the worst that this man has suffered. In Jan 2009, MP Seng was literally FLAMED by an assailant whilst attending a community event as Yio Chu Kang GRC MP. He was inflicted with burns on 15% of his body and his attacker was determined to be a 70 year old retired taxi driver who was subsequently admitted to IMH. Even then, not everyone was sympathetic, with some forum users adopting a ‘let this be a lesson to MPs for bullying the elderly‘ tone, adding ‘fuel to the fire’. The MP torcher was even lauded as a ‘courageous hero’ by others.

It appears that MP Seng has a history of drawing the ire of crazy old taxi drivers. Earlier in July 2006, he was punched in the face, again by a 70-plus former cab driver during a Meet the People session. The attacker was reportedly unhappy that his contract was terminated by ComfortDelgro and demanded an answer from his MP. Despite being boxed in the face and suffering the trauma of being burnt alive, this man continues to serve, though he  might be wearing asbestos underwear wherever he goes and have a phobia of blowing birthday candles for the rest of his life.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Halloween Horrors axed for not being family friendly

From ‘Night Safari axes Halloween Horrors event after feedback’, 16 Sept 2011 and ‘Staff split over decision to cancel event, 19 Sept 2011, articles by Amanda Tan, ST

The Night Safari has canned a Halloween event – even though 1,000 tickets have been sold – because of feedback that it has no relevance to conservation. Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) has pulled the plug just two weeks before Halloween Horrors was to be held on weekends between Sept 30 and Oct 30.

On Thursday, WRS, which manages the Night Safari, said the decision was made ‘because of the negative feedback received from corporations, friends of the zoo, the public and the media about the event, especially over the relevance in relation to conservation’.

Ms Isabella Loh, director and newly-installed chief executive of the group, added that it agrees with comments made by President Tony Tan Keng Yam and that ‘WRS parks should have more family- bonding and wholesome activities’. On Sunday, Dr Tan was at the Singapore Zoo celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival when he said: ‘Such family bonding, I believe, is very important for Singapore because we need to create informal occasions where families, children can bond with their parents and grandparents. It is the best way of building a sense of unity and comfort within the family.’

….She said she had visited the event’s Haunted House on Monday and ‘got upset’ after that as she was ‘uncomfortable with the idea because it was too scary’. ‘I explained in an e-mail that that is a lot of money spent on an infrastructure (Haunted House) of devil worship,’ she said.

According to sources, Ms Loh said she had heard that ‘zebra heads were chopped off as a scare tactic’ as part of Halloween Horrors. Employees told her this was definitely not the case.

…On social media platform Facebook, netizens posted stinging comments on WRS’ page, while others had doubts over the reason given for the cancellation. One user, known as Jolyn Chia Yiling, wrote: ‘Maybe you guys would consider giving us a better excuse than we want to concentrate on Deepavali. Halloween in and of itself is also a great bonding activity for the whole family.’

The cancellation at the Night Safari has also come as disappointing news for 17 Singapore Polytechnic students. The third-year integrated events and project management students had conceptualised the theme, developed characters and designed costumes as part of their final-year project. They held their first full-dress rehearsal on Monday.

‘We’re disappointed. The students have done 90 per cent of the work and everyone was hyped up,’ said lecturer Jacqueline Ho, although she added that their grades would not be affected by the cancellation.

WRS chief isn't a FAN of Halloween

For an organisation that prides itself in conservation of endangered species, WRS is BLOODY cruel to Homo sapiens in the form of SP students . Isabella Loh’s knee-jerk reaction to Tony Tan’s comment during the Mooncake Festival among other anti-Halloween public complaints about Qing dynasty zombies in 201o  demonstrates how easily organisations crumble under mounting pressure at the expense of wasted resources, logistics and broken hearts all round. Pulling the plug on some ghoulish fun is like a parent spanking a child for making funny faces, and as much as WRS has good intentions of keeping the Safari wholesome, it just goes to show that WRS is to a sense of humour and fun as a silver bullet is to a werewolf. The WRS chief also appears to be hiding behind the clout of Tony Tan as justification for the ban, when TT DID NOT STATE for the record that he disapproved of the spookfest in the first place. Not only does one flush the SP efforts down the toilet, but gives the impression that it was the President who gave the orders to do so.

Caving in to terrified parents who want to protect their children from being cursed with demonic possession is ignoring the simple fact that people have a choice of participating in Horrors or not, and surely there would have been precautions in place to ensure that the faint-hearted or scaredy-cats were warned well in advance before accidentally landing themselves on the Tram Ride to Eternal Hell. Organisers could have also toned down the event to just a few days over the weekend or raised the age limit, thereby arriving at a compromise between customers and dissenters. Banning this altogether is like driving a wooden stake through a someone’s chest just because he has a pale complexion and speaks with a Transylvanian accent, but more importantly it leaves a bad taste of dried blood in the mouths of 1000 customers who signed up for the event.

Halloween here has been a gleeful excuse for ladies to dress like Catwoman and men to put on make-up once a year, and is more a modified Cosplay event than traditional Jack O Lanterns or trick or treating, meaning it doesn’t necessarily have to be all freaky ghouls, goblins or ‘devil worship’. People can come dressed as Hitler, Batman and Joker, or members of ZZ Top if they want to. Unlike the ethnicity-specific Mooncake festival or the proposed  ‘Horrors’ replacement Deepavali (Festival of FRIGHTS? hur hur), Halloween is a more ‘informal’ event which brings all ages together, not to mention it’s more FUN.  It’s also one of the few ‘festivals’ we have that’s racially and religiously neutral (The others are New Year’s Day, May Day, National Day and of course April Fools’ Day), though it needs some time before Halloween becomes universally accepted as a legitimate family-fun activity rather than a weekend of  drunken pranking and cheesy  fake blood.

Every company should be like Lady Gaga

From ‘Swee Say to firms: Emulate Gaga’, 12 July 2011, article by Gwendolyn Ng, MyPaper.

COMPANIES in the service industry here should emulate Lady Gaga. That was the advice Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, had for business owners and industry representatives at an event marking the fifth anniversary of the national service-excellence movement, Go the Extra Mile for Service (Gems).

Though Mr Lim admitted that he knows next to nothing about the 25-year-old popstar, he is impressed by the emotional attachment she inspires in her “little monsters”, or fans. He said: “Somehow, Lady Gaga is able to engage her fans all over the world, not just with her songs… but also with experiences. Every (company) ought to find a way such that more of you will become like the Lady Gaga of your respective sectors.”

…Mr Lim said: “The gap between the very-good and not-so-good is quite wide… Not because those at the bottom are not good, but rather those at the top are running faster and faster. We hope to help those who are running fast to run even faster. We (also) hope to reach out to the majority.”

This awkward analogy came fresh after the NDP Funpack song fiasco, which our dear Minister here would have taken as an original composition given that he knows ‘next to nothing’ about Lady Gaga, or her ‘Bad Romance’ song for that matter. Perhaps Lim Swee Say should spend more time surfing tabloid news before randomly selecting a music and fashion icon as a business model. You could apply the same analogy to any hip, successful celebrity with adoring fans (Kylie Minogue for example), and it appears that the only reason why Lim Swee Say went Gaga is because her stage name sounds like that of a superhero, in addition to being ridiculously catchy.  Lady Gaga can afford to stir controversy, whether it’s splashing herself with blood, cooping herself in an egg, wearing a dress made of steak or spouting blasphemous slander. Such antics define the product that is her, and suggesting that companies gaga-fy themselves by becoming tacky media whores and aggravating animal rights groups as a means of getting recognised is simplistic at best, a regrettable mistake at worst. If Lim Swee Say’s inspirations were a national dish, it’d probably be a big bowl of  ‘rojak’.

Most successful companies hardly live on the razor’s edge, being more like safe, steady David Beckhams than offbeat, volatile Lady Gagas. Think Coke, Apple, Pfizer. Do any of these sound the least bit Gaga to you?  Such analogies are redundant and unhelpful, serving only to create the illusion that Lim Swee Say listens to what you listen to on the radio, though it’s likely that he had only heard of the performer via the Funpack song and it’s the only Western female solo artist he can probably name other than Madonna or Dolly Parton. He probably rates Poker Face as his all time favourite song. now. Here’s some possible Gaga-inspired motivational posters to adorn our cubicles, featuring our patron saint of business herself living on the Edge of Glory. Eh Eh Eh There’s Nothing More I Can Say.






Double O’s double standards

From ‘Ladies Night Dress Code’, 28 June 2011, Voices, Today

(Shalini Jayaraj and Jerrie Tan Qiu Lin): MY FRIENDS and I regularly patronise dblO, a nightclub, on Wednesdays as women get complimentary entry because of Ladies Night. This practice is longstanding among most nightclubs. My friends and I have never had problems getting in.

However, on June 15, an extremely rude bouncer denied a friend entry, citing an alleged “dress code” that women must follow in order to obtain free entry. Apparently, my friend was not dressed in a sufficiently “feminine” manner.  As this was the first time we had encountered such a refusal, my friends and I protested and asked to speak to the manager. First, such a “dress code” was never publicised nor represented to us.

Second, this “non-femininely dressed” friend never had problems getting into dblO in the past. Granted, she does not dress in a “feminine” manner but is most obviously a female.  The manager claimed this “dress code” had been the club’s practice since it opened. Recognising the futility of challenging the code’s existence, we enquired how we could modify my friend’s outfit so as to meet the requisite standard. The manager was contradictory in what he considered “sufficiently feminine”.

First, he advised my friend to head home to change into a dress before coming back. Upon our pointing out of several women who were dressed in a similar fashion as my friend, and yet let in free, the manager said they were allowed in because they wore make-up. But even after my friends and I asked if she could be let in upon applying cosmetics, the manager was reluctant.

I suggest that the management at dblO be more transparent about this “dress code” requirement for Ladies Night. While I do not want to question the management’s reasoning behind the requirement, it would certainly be fairer to the public if such a “dress code” were plainly set out.  Only then will my friends and I have the option of deciding whether to adhere to the required theme or head to another nightclub – especially when the alternative to complimentary entry is a payment labelled on the signboard as being the cover charge for “males”.

This ‘dress code’ is nothing more than a formality substituting for what’s basically a subjective, inevitably sexist assessment of how ‘ladylike’ a patron is, which varies from bouncer to bouncer. A  tomboyish celebrity would be granted entry even if she were in sneakers and a T-shirt, and such biasness is an inevitable catch of Ladies’ Night, an event with long established discriminatory practices; demanding that girls wear lipstick, are not handicapped, and that they must be entirely female. Some clubs like Overeasy even match the number of free drinks you get with your brasize. As a business and with a reputation to maintain, clubs have every right to be discerning in its clientele, otherwise bouncers would be plying their trade as professional gymrats or PE teachers (They’re too bulky to be football players, not big enough to be sumo wrestlers). But it’s an unfortunate fact that if you’re not hip, physically appealing or dressed to kill, as compared to the rest of the socialites savvy with the ‘unspoken rules’ and spent the last 2 hours dolling up, you will be the brunt of euphemistic excuses when the truth is something no girl ever wants to hear, that no amount of make-up will ever earn you that right to a free drink.

It seems that ladies night is more discriminating towards its own sex than paying males, despite what some ads tell you about how ‘discrimination works’ to a lady’s advantage. It’s all part of that exclusivity mythos that distinguishes boutique clubs from your run-of-the-mill pubs, and as maddeningly condescending as it is to put on make up just because a bouncer says so,  it’s worth nothing that we men do things we’re not exactly proud of to gain acceptance into social circles all the time, whether it’s wearing a tie, wearing shiny shoes, or shaving every morning. Of course, if you’re a fiercely independent woman who doesn’t need anyone to tell you what to do or clubs patronising your sex with freebies, you can exercise free will, hit another joint, and tweet about your humiliating experience so no one will ever step into DblO again, since that is the risk clubs are willing to take rejecting women who don’t fit their ‘client profile’. Double O was more blunt in its reason for rejection back in 2005 (See below, ‘Female, but not welcome at a Ladies’ Night’, 4 Nov 2005, Voices, Today), whereby a ‘butch’ was turned away. Hence the politically correct but ambiguous ‘dress code’ 6 years later. Perhaps some definition of what clubs mean by ‘Lady’ is in order, since we’ve been using ‘lady’ far too loosely in daily conversation when we really mean ‘woman’ most of the time. The terminology may have changed, but everything else about Double O’s Ladies Night that makes it still successful, however you want to label it a winning, sexist ‘anti-butch’ formula, hasn’t changed one bit.

Your bloody passport

From ‘Why visit a place where we are not welcome?’18 June 2011, ST Forum

(Lawrence Koo): …Last Saturday, I left home at 7am to go to Malaysia for a holiday. I took the Second Link hoping to beat the jam at the Malaysian immigration checkpoint. It was rather smooth clearance at the Tuas side. But to my horror, it took me four hours to clear Malaysian immigration.

Just before I drove off, I said to the immigration officer attending to me that the new system was really bad and impractical. Instead of saying sorry for the inconvenience caused, the officer replied: ‘Then don’t come, lah.’

That was almost unpardonable coming from a government official who is supposed to be tourist-friendly. Who would want to visit a place that is unwelcoming to visitors?

It was reported that visitors from Singapore made about 13 million trips to Malaysia last year, which constituted about 53 per cent of Malaysia’s total tourist arrivals – contributing RM28.4 billion (S$11.6 billion) in receipts. Whose loss is it if Singaporeans stop visiting Malaysia?

The friendliest immigration officers I’ve met in my Asian travels were the Japanese, and the sulkiest sort were the Cambodians at Siem Reap who barely look at your face that you wonder if they’re doing their job or not. I suppose the grouchy attitude is to ward off any unnecessary feedback from the throng of strangers entering your country  everyday. It’s debatable if immigration officers, Malaysian or otherwise, are supposed to be service-friendly and polite all the time; after all they need to be stern when quarantining dubious characters so that they can administer naked squat body checks and such. The nature of their work is strictly business and one shouldn’t get too hard up on this scathing unfriendliness which isn’t entirely representative of Malaysian hospitality. I’m certain the offending officer must have gotten complaints the whole time (probably mostly from Singaporeans) while Mr Koo was stuck in the jam, and it’s not like he could do anything about it. Still, this outburst is tame, and even sort of makes sense, compared to the treatment dealt to Malaysians themselves in the 1970s (See below, Hard words and no chicken, 24 Oct 1970, ST Forum)

Of course, one shouldn’t flame Malaysian authorities and preach about service standards when our own immigration officers aren’t exactly tourism ambassadors themselves (See below, Our unpleasant return to Singapore, 12 Aug 2009, Today).

In terms of derogatory treatment, Malaysia’s notorious naked squat and strip searching is a stroll in the park compared to the POW grade detention practices of the Canadian immigration authorities in the 80’s,   that it actually drove a Singaporean tourist to commit  suicide right in their office (See below, Holiday girl’s nightmare in Canada, 8 November 1985). I myself was subject to an embarrassing ordeal by Canadian officials once after being initially deceived by what appeared to be friendly banter when it was in fact tactical interrogation, and in spite of how welcoming everyone else outside the airport were, it’s still one country I’d swear to avoid as much as possible. So, be respectful in front of an unfriendly officer, but be even more careful when he’s exceptionally friendly.