Sunday 30 December 2012

After all the complaints, I apologise for being stupid

No one likes getting complaints.

This year, I received a record number of complaints for this column.

2012 started with complaints about a column I wrote about why I like Christmas better than Chinese New Year.

Being Chinese, I thought it was okay for me to express my distaste for the trappings of the holiday named after my own race. I was wrong.

I apologised.

Then just last month, someone calling me Samantha took umbrage at me making light of the recent baby mix-up at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

I apologised.

But the column that earned me the most haters was the one about the Olympics in August called “My mother says Tao Li is too fat to win”.

The headline alone offended a few people.

Someone commented on Facebook: “My father says the reporter is too stupid to be published.”

That’s actually kind of funny.

A blogger named Andrew Loh wrote a long blog post dedicated to calling me stupid entitled “Wow. This guy is really stupid.

The next day, another blogger named Dotseng wrote a blog post called “Wow... this Andrew Loh is really stupid to call that journalist stupid!

These netizens seem rather fond of the word “stupid”.

Anyway, I apologise for being stupid.

Because of the online flagellation I went through, I was in probably a very small minority of people who actually sympathised with Ms Amy Cheong two months later when her racist Facebook comments went viral.

But unlike Ms Cheong, I haven’t been fired from my job despite all the complaints. (Yet.)

Which makes me luckier than the taxi driver who was sacked after a woman passenger complained that he was watching a video on his phone while driving.

According to The Straits Times last week, the phone was on the dashboard and the passenger said the video was “not suitable for children”, possibly pornographic.

Would I call the cabby stupid for what he did?

No – although I do have some questions about the incident.

As far as I could tell, the driver was fired for multi-tasking behind the wheel. The porn part seems incidental. Gratuitous even.

Would the passenger have complained if it wasn’t an obscene video?

What if it was Gangnam Style?

Then I would be grateful if the cabby was only watching the video and not attempting to horse-dance along with it.

Over one billion views on YouTube? That would be like the entire population size of Singapore that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the country can accommodate (ie six million) watching Psy's video 166.667 times.

Well, I’ve done my part.

My other question is that even if you are capable of illegally watching a video and driving at the same time, how do you fully enjoy pornography in a moving vehicle?

Okay, maybe the taxi has automatic transmission, allowing the cabby to keep one hand free to, uh, “fully enjoy” himself.

But wouldn’t he feel self-conscious when he has passengers?

I mean, I used to get embarrassed watching the Solid Gold dancers on TV with my mother in the room.

Yes, I’m old enough to remember Solid Gold. You young ones can search for Solid Gold dancers on YouTube. Just make sure your parents aren’t around when you do. Your dad might want to watch the video with you.

Speaking of which, would the cab passenger have complained if instead of a woman, the passenger was a man like me?

My dilemma would then be, on the one hand, this cabby is endangering both our lives. On the other hand, I can watch the video with him. Free show!

And if I’m in the backseat, I can position myself such that I can fully enjoy myself without the driver’s knowledge.

Perhaps the cabby thought he was providing an extra service. He just neglected to display an R21 sign on his cab.

Maybe in the near future, passengers will also be handed 3D glasses. I just hope the cabby won't be wearing them too. Then even I would complain.

On second thought, I don’t want anyone to lose his job because of me.

I’d probably just blog about it.

- Published in The New Paper, 30 December 2012