say cheese 

A "Singapore 2006 Four Million Smiles" campaign has been launched with aims to put up a mural of smiling faces of Singaporeans to welcome 16,000 delegates visiting Singapore during September's World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings.

Guess what? This morning, I read from the papers that Singapore has been ranked 30 out of 35 cities in a Reader's Digest courtesy test. The headline screams: "S'poreans get an 'F' for courtesy"!

The survey conducted by the Reader's Digest comprises three tests:

–         Helping to pick up dropped papers;

–         Holding the door open for the person behind you;

–         Saying ‘thank you' when purchasing items;

and, according to the survey, Singaporeans failed miserably for the first two tests but scored well for our service standards.

The report says that "seventy percent of staff at retailers surveyed from classy Marks & Spencer to mamak, or corner shops – said "please" and "thank you" before and after a purchase."

REALLY? How come the test result does not gel with my personal observation. Perhaps the surveyors are non-asians or speak English with a foreign accent. I am curious why I rarely hear "please" and "thank you" from the sales assistants whenever I patronize a store. Perhaps the test was conducted in touristy places where retailers are more willing to say "please" and "thank you" to walk-in foreigners.

If I sound like a disgruntled shopper, pardon me. I am always offended by how badly retailers treat local consumers. It is a shame that Singaporeans treat foreigners way better than our own countrymen. Ask your friends for their views and they would more likely agree with me.

The "Singapore 2006 Four Million Smiles" campaign will meet its targets. After all it is a campaign for the foreigners and we are good at putting up a false front to show the world what a nice bunch of people we are.

Please, Singaporeans, stop your hypocrisy. If we don't have the manners and we can't even smile at our own people, this campaign is just another ra-ra show and serves no meaningful purpose in helping us become a gracious city.

Anyway, keep smiling for the camera if that is the only thing you can genuinely smile at.

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