Monday 31 July 2017

Sorry, Michelle Chong, I heck care — but at least Khaw Boon Wan has pride in his work

Dear Michelle Chong,

I’m sorry. You were right.

I saw your viral Facebook post.

It’s like what you said — people in Singapore don’t “have any pride in their work and just have a ‘pass up homework’ heck-care attitude”.

You wrote:
“They don’t check their work, don’t care about how it turns out, don’t take that extra step to value-add or think about how to make it better, don’t want to improve etc.

“It’s a ‘why should I bother? It’s not like I’m getting paid very much for this job’ or ‘please lah it’s just a job right?’ or ‘do extra for what? I’m still getting the same salary right?’ attitude.”

When I read that, I felt like you were scolding me directly.

Even though we haven’t spoken to each other since we worked together on that failed TV pilot at Mediacorp 10 years ago, you still know me so well.

Writing this column is like homework.

I have such a “heck-care attitude” that I can’t even bother to do this column every week any more. It’s now every two weeks and I still don’t care how it turns out.

Like in my last column, I didn’t care that I used the word “boobs” way too many times.

And I’m still getting the same salary!

Instead of taking that extra step to value-add, I’m taking that extra step to value-subtract.

It’s not like I’m getting paid very much for this job.

That’s why I don't check my work. I expect my editors to check my work for me. After all, they are paid more than I am.

But apparently, they too don’t have any pride in their work because they let me use the word “boobs” in my last column way too many times.

However, I doubt that everyone (or even most people) is as “heck care” as me and my editors.

So to say that “people here generally don’t care about what they do” is an unfair generalisation.

In your Facebook post, you cited examples of “shoddy work” by a post-production house and an interior design firm you hired, but I don’t know their side of the story.

For instance, some have criticised McDonald’s for launching the Nasi Lemak Burger for National Day only to run out of the burger two weeks before National Day, which kind of defeated the purpose of launching the burger for National Day.

But as McDonald’s explained, the burger sold out due to “overwhelming demand”.

So it’s actually the people’s fault for buying too many Nasi Lemak Burgers. I bought four myself. I apologise for my overwhelming patriotism.

Many have also been unhappy about the frequent MRT delays in recent weeks.

But as Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan pointed out on Thursday, the MRT has become three times more reliable in the two years since he took charge.

That’s one man who has pride in his work.

Too bad he doesn’t count the delays caused by the testing of the new signalling system because they happen only “once in 30 years”.

Like “ponding”.

The minister blamed the press for “frightening” readers.

Mr Khaw said:
“If it were so simple, they don’t need us. We can ask the reporter to run the train system.”
Having written one or two or half a dozen articles about train delays (even though I’m not a “reporter” per se), I was afraid for a moment that I would be asked to run the MRT.

But then I thought, hey, could I do much worse?

Even with my “heck care” attitude.

You know what’s the first thing I would do?

Change a few station names.

We have too many stations with “Tuas” in their names — Tuas Crescent, Tuas West Road and Tuas Link.

As if we’re not confused enough by Marina Bay/Marina South Pier and Farrer Park/Farrer Road, which aren’t even on the same line!

You know what I’m talking about, right? You take the MRT all the time.

So I do agree with you, Michelle. At least, partially.

Yes, there are people — such as whoever named the MRT stations — who don’t have any pride in their work.

Not just me.

But not everyone.

Would it be too abrupt to end the column here?

Aiyah, heck care lah.

- Published in The New Paper, 31 July 2017