By now, a post by Ms Andrea Gail Poon has been “liked” by over 20,000 people and shared over 20,000 times over Facebook. I am of course referring to this post:
So the whole brouhaha started because a little girl took the utensils from the food stall operated by Ms Poon without asking for permission. Apparently, the girl and her parents did not purchase any food from the stall either. Apparently, the girl cried when Ms Poon’s mother asked the little girl to return the utensils. How did the little girl comfort the girl? He apparently said: “It’s alright, I will cause trouble for this stall and tell NEA there were cockroaches in the stall”.
Three thoughts came to my mind when I first read this.
Firstly, why would the girl cry just because someone asked her to return the utensils? What tone of voice did Ms Poon’s mother use? Did she sound very aggressive? Or was the girl simply being… weak? Was the little girl another member of the durian generation? If the little (how little) girl can cry just because someone asked her to return the utensils, what else would make her cry? Just about anything?
Secondly, what possessed the father of the little girl to say that? How vindictive is the father? Just because your little girl cried, just because you couldn’t get some extra utensils, you want to ruin someone else’s livelihood? What sort of mentality is that? Thankfully, as the website Mothership.sg pointed out, it is a criminal offence to provide “false information, with intent to cause a public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person”. Now there is a part of me that wishes that the father of the girl does make a report to NEA, and NEA finds no cockroaches, then the police comes in and charges the father of the girl for giving false information. Ok, ok… I know… very bad of me. I shall repent.
Thirdly, what does this whole episode say of the state of our education? As a friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, “Education is not about the certificates you have but the lessons that you have learned. Evidently this person is definitely less educated than many of those very well behaved children I meet everyday. And I feel sorry for his children who will grow up learning from this uneducated buffoon. ” Education begins at home. The first, and most important teachers a child will have are their parents. No matter how well-resourced, no matter what sort of teacher-student ratio we have, no matter what policies or curricula we come up with, if we have parents who behave like this, our education system, and thus Singapore, will fail.
There may well be another side of the story. Perhaps the mother of Ms Poon was really very aggressive when she asked the girl to return the utensils. Perhaps, as some have suggested in comments online, all of these could have been avoided if Ms Poon’s mother had “turned a blind eye” and just let the girl take and use the utensils (after all, doesn’t cost Ms Poon’s parents much right?). But none of these justify the words and deeds of the father of the girl.
I hope that this is not going to be the norm, where people become self-entitled and vindictive. I hope we will, instead, move towards a more gracious and understanding society.
And to Ms Poon, I am trying to figure out where your parents’ stall is. I can’t figure out from the photos. But if I do, I will gladly go and eat from your parents’ stall.
[Featured image: photos taken from Ms Andrea Gail Poon’s Facebook post]