EDITOR’S NOTE: Jaslyn’s letter to the Town Council first appeared on her blog here. Her letter was also published by the Singapore Democrats here.

Blogger and activist Ms Jaslyn Go came across an incident in which a Tanjong Pagar Town Council staff member was loudly and publicly berating a cleaner for not doing his work properly. Even if the worker was not up to scratch, Ms Go pointed out that there was no necessity for such behaviour from the council staff. She wrote to the town council to register her concern and to ask that all workers be treated with respect.

20 Feb 09

Mr Wang Yam Peng
Senior Property Manager
Tanjong Pagar Town Council

Dear Mr Wang Yam Peng,

As per our tele-conversation on 19 Feb 09, I would like to make an official complaint against one of your staff for his unbecoming behavior at the lift lobby of my block (Bukit Merah).

I had just gotten out from my car at the carpark next to the rubbish bin of my block when I hear loud commotion. (Please note that the carpark is further from the lift lobby compare to the front carpark lot and I can hear the commotion).

As I walked to my lift lobby, I noticed an elderly gentleman (grey hair and a bit plump) shouting at one of the cleaners (if I am not mistaken, a Bangladeshi) while another young gentleman looked on (guy in a dark shirt and pants).

Your staff was hurling vulgarities at the worker in full view and earshot of many of my neighbors and myself who had gathered at the life lobby waiting for the lift. The place was not clean in “his bloody standard” and he “bloody well do a better job” were but some of his nasty remarks.  He carried on asking the worker if he knew “what day is today”.

Embarrassed by the shouting, the worker kept quiet or might have reply softly which is when your staff was emboldened and raised his voice even louder and demanded that the worker answer him loudly.  All these exchanges were going on while at least 5 of us were waiting at the lift lobby and watching.

When I reached my home, I could still hear the shouting from upstairs.

I spoke to you earlier on, the name you gave me was Mr Joe Tan.  I have met Mr Joe Tan walking around my precinct several times, I do not think that the gentleman is Mr Joe Tan.

I have checked on the notice pasted at the lift lobby, the supervisor now is Mr Wan Fook Keong, who resembles the man I saw.

The behavior of your staff is very uncalled for. Perhaps the worker might not have done a good job or up to his standard but from my impression this worker might have been new on the job.

If this worker was bad, I believe that the previous lady cleaner was worse. When she was assigned to clean my block, my block was always so dirty and cockroaches were always seen around the rubbish chute area.  Her mopping of the lift leaves the lift still dirty and smelling worse, mainly because the water used for mopping in the first place wasn’t clean.

She talks more then she cleans, and goes around blaming the residents for making the place dirty instead of cleaning up the place.  For such a standard, I have never seen her being reprimanded in public in that manner before for an equally or even worse job done.

Certainly Mr Wan (I assume I have the right person) might think of the worker as a lesser mortal than him, thus justifying his verbal abuse.  To me, no fellow human being should be subjected to such humiliation and embarrassment even if you think you are superior.

You mentioned that you will send Mr Joe Tan to apologize to me personally, to which I mentioned that he does not owe me a apology.  He owes the worker a apology.

I assume (and most probably I am right), Mr Wan or even Mr Joe Tan is a town council staff or a sub contractor engaged by the town council, but once they don on your polo tees with the town council’s logo, they will be seen as representatives of the town council and arguably considered a civil servant. Is this the kind of conduct a civil servant or town council staff should behave?

Or pehaps Mr Wan is not aware that according to Mr Lim Boon Heng, we Singaporeans are dependent on foreigners to retain our jobs. Mr Wan should start showing respect to the foreign cleaner if not, he might lose his job.

Jaslyn Go


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