In a post responding to the incident in which Amy Tashiana shamed a FairPrice staff for being unable to speak English, Mdm Ho Ching said ‘the strength of a Singaporean is our open mindedness to accept all creeds, colours and cultures as equals’.
“Walk around Marina Bay to enjoy the breeze and hear the laughter and chatter of friends and families in all languages,” she said, “and imagine that would be how Singapore sounded in the old days, with all manners of Chinese, Indian Persian, Arabic, as well as regional traders from around us, and Europeans from afar, all doing business, making a living, and some making a home here over time.”
Being Singaporan is more than just a birthright or a passport, she said.
It means to carry ourselves with discipline, respect and humility.
Ms Ho Ching pointed out a similar situation that can arise in cafes run by the special needs where the frontline staff may be deaf or mute, or physically disabled in other ways like muscular atrophy. Some may have invisible challenges like autism.
“So we try to either point to pictures for our orders or learn sign language to order black coffee or milk tea,” she said.
In Japan, there are cafes where the frontline staff are seniors who could have dementia. Customers are prepped to expect mistakes and forgotten orders.