This article is an opinion surrounding the controversy over Baey Yam Keng’s $2.50 nasi padang (see link below).
Baey explained he didn’t know about the discount, and that ac/baey-yam-kengtually invited even more flake for him not knowing food prices. I wonder if rejecting “discounts” is actually supposed to be the right thing to do.
Other MPs (like Tin Pei Lin) have joined the fray and said they would not accept discounts to remain “above board”.
But if I was the hawker or whoever who gave out the gesture of hospitality, not offending meh?
“Why, see my $2.50 nasi padang discount no up is it…?!” My inner voice would have whispered.
It’s actually quite a common thing for stallholders to extend hospitality to strike rapport with customers.
Recently an ex-boss rejected my Christmas gift point blank. “No gifts for me please!”
My response: “Aiya just say thank you!”, feeling slightly exasperated that he didn’t want my gift, mentally adding, “what the hell” to that sentence and arranging the face into a pout.
Then he explained that he would feel awkward with gifts from staff, and staff may invite gossips etc. As if that’s supposed to make me feel better.
I understand his 用心良苦 (good intentions) quite perfectly, but that didn’t stop me from feeling deflated. I didn’t have any agenda other than to share some fun and cheer during Christmas.
In this age where politicians are also expected to connect better with the ground, have better EQ etc, how would rejecting hospitality from a member of public match up to that expectation? It can be rather impolite leh.
So I have three humble suggestions for MPs:-
a) Someone suggested to me he can return the favour by buying kopi or teh back to the stallholder. 礼尚往来 you know, which means reciprocity. Then blog about it.
b) Set up this “hospitality for MP” kitty fund. Whenever the MP enjoys goodwill like that, he or she thanks the stallholder and puts aside the balance into an RC kitty or something to convert into food vouchers for the needy in his constituency. Then blog about it.
c) If the discount is more than cost of a cup of kopi or teh, also buy kopi for the rest of the stalls in the coffeeshop and conduct a Yam Seng (everyone stand up, bump glasses and cheers) lor. Then blog about the mass-Yam Seng complete with pictures of sloshing kopi and teh. Imagine that! Sure to make top 10 pictures of the year.
I’m sure netizens with their creativity can come up with more. Bottomline:- don’t waste a good plate of $2.50 nasi padang – cheers to that!!!
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