What does ‘S’ stand for?

I would love to say that ‘S’ stand for ‘Singapore’. However despite being a Singaporean, I am disappointed and dismayed (often also distressed) about being a Singaporean.

‘S’ also stand for many other words or even mean ‘ass hole’ in the derogatory slang of the English language. Sure there are many ass holes around if we care to publicly shamed and disgraced them. When the letter ‘S’ becomes so ingrained in the arrogance, if not ignorance, of this country that begins with the same letter. ‘S’ stands for ‘Singapore’ and ‘Singaporeans’. When ‘S’ has the same synonyms as ‘Singapore’, that can only be the case when arrogance and ignorance really become a pain in the ‘S’ for me.

Let me share with you this story. I did want to share this when I became the President of some big shot bank, but now that it is not possible, I can only share it online with anyone who bothers. ‘S’ stands for ‘Speaker’s Corner’. That was the place I had lunch at during my time as an IT Support staff. ‘S’ stands for ‘speech’, something I always practiced when I am alone, at home or at work. Speaker’s Corner is a public space for any Singaporean to have a speech. It may or may not be political in nature but any speaker would have to apply for a license in order to give speech there. The place was exceptionally filled with buzz during the 2009 Lehman financial crisis when 600 Singaporeans that invested in the Lehman mini bonds gather to discuss about the Lehman financial crisis (which affects the Minibonds) and tried to help each other out. That’s about the only time that the Speaker’s Corner is able to gather anyone at all.

Well, back to my ‘S’say about what ‘S’ stands for. ‘S’ stands for ‘Singapore’ and ‘Singaporeans’ and I certainly tasted their ‘S’ lately. I receive a call from an unknown caller. He wanted me to *unlocked the computer of Mr Soh&Soh (another word with the letter ‘S’). In the beginning, he sounded patient. Then when i managed to pulled the records from the computer for Mr Soh&Soh, the account was not locked. He was holding on the line and speaking to someone in mandarin. I interrupted him and asked him whether he has his old password since it was not locked ,while withholding the information the account was not locked. he replied he does not have the password. I proceed to asked the unknown caller whether he is the user of the computer account (The phone has a caller ID and displayed the name of the user, who is Mr Soh&Soh). Then he started to get impatient with me and raised his voice at me. In addition he questioned me, in a reprimanding tone, whether I can perform the simple task of unlocking the computer. Feeling that I had been challenged, I did not raise my voice or scream at him but replied him in a tone that is not guilty but instead sounded more puzzled. “Could you please calm down sir. I am trying to establish whether you are Mr Soh&Soh.” I asked him in a sangfroid way. He further raised his voice and replied, “I am not Mr Soh&Soh”, “Do I have to call Ms Scary to do this?” For the ignorant public, Ms Scary is the overall in-charge of the IT department. I replied, “If you want to call Ms Scary, please do so.” I also added, “This is not in accordance with the company’s compliance policy and since you are not Mr Soh&Soh, why don’t you login using your username and password.” I was still unable to identify the caller and at the same time, he is trying to access another user’s computer. The next thing I know, the phone got cut off and I hang up the phone feeling unjustified and puzzled. After hanging up, I told myself, “Even if you are the President, you are not allowed to access the computer means that you are not able to access.” I was simply following the company’s compliant policy. Allow me to inform the readers that the IT Support of the industry that I worked in has many secrets which could lead to a breach of trust or any other laws. The caller did not identify himself and at the same time, he was trying to access someone else’s computer by asking me to unlock the computer access for him. Doesn’t that sound strange? Would you have given in under that kind of reprimanding tone and using Ms Scary as a threat?

‘S’ also stand for ‘severity’. On my first day of work at the company, I was told that we only response to severity and not seniority or our superior at work. The caller did not state his reasons to unlock the computer. The caller also did not share with me the severity of unlocking the computer. Up to the point of our conversation (before the phone got mysteriously cut off) I was not able to identify the caller as well as the severity of the issue. However, I was strictly following the company’s compliance and stood up for what I thought is the right thing to do – security of the user’s computer was at stake. In addition I also do not know who Mr Soh&Soh is. For all I know, Mr Soh&Soh could be the CEO or even the Chairman and the caller was trying to access his computer without permission. Am I right to say this?

‘S’ it turns out, the next thing I know, I was summoned to the meeting room and was questioned by Team Lead (TL). Another general information to fill in for the readers, we are contracted staff by the company. I was working in the company for about a month. The company has many secrets and only disseminate information on a ‘need-to-know’ basis. If there was any protocol, I certainly am not aware of it. My TL questioned about my tone. He also reprimanded me for my tone, so I asked him what about my tone? I did not scream at the caller while he was raising his. I also went on to challenge him that questioning my tone leads to questioning my competency which in turn is also question my job as an IT Support staff. The whole discussion was not friendly. Nothing was friendly from my TL ever since day 1. It was as if he knew me before I met him and he had a very deep biased against me. Most of the time, I picked up the work on my own while he never consistently impart the work during my on-the-job training (OJT). Then I found out that the run book which he always asked me to refer to is not perfect. That is ok but he wanted to covered up and at the same time tried to mislead me or even confused me (which perhaps also explain why he never consistently tell me my core responsibilities). I have no prior experience with IT support and I switched from electronics. But I was willing to take up the challenge. The meeting and discussion did not go well. I defended my position and we left the room.

After lunch, the person-in-charge of the company’s outsourced contract came to visit me. He told me of the bad news that I was no longer needed by the company. He then told me the reason – I had offended a top executive from Hong Kong. Yes! The caller turns out to be the Chairman of the company! That explains a lot! That was why I was told to leave (not dismissed) by the company (the contract ended because of mutual agreement). I felt unjust since then. It was last Thursday. I wrote down all the possible reasons of my ‘dismissal’ in my computer journal and even raise it to TAFEP for possibility of discrimination. I was simply doing my job and was ‘dismissed’ because I did my job? To me, there was more than meets the eye. It smells of discrimination from a higher social class.

What does ‘S’ stand for? The management of the company is Singaporean. The company is a multi-national from South Africa. ‘S’ certainly stands for ‘Singapore’, ‘Singaporeans’ and ‘South Africans’. In the hierarchy of the company, the caller is certainly from a higher position as compared to mine. When he asked me to do a simple tasked and I was dismissed, ‘S’ to me would stand for ‘ass hole’ since when I looked up the corporate ladder as I was climbing it, his ‘S’ certainly was right in my face! His dismissal of me shows his flawed character and his biased against someone from a lower social class. This is discrimination and I do hope I get a reply from TAFEP.

This is the story I hope to give in my speech should I become a top executive in the company in the years to come. Well, I guess it will not happen and hence the story is published here instead. If story can make the heart grows bigger, I hope this story will make all ‘ass holes’ think and feel like a human.

Singapore is a Republic but it behaves like a democracy and rules like an oligarchy yet many times it pretends to be a monarchy. If Singapore borderline between tyranny and timocracy, it certainly isn’t so for if it was timocracy, it hardly has any honour and if it was tyranny, it failed to be dictatorial.

‘Singapura, Oh Singapura, sunny island set in the sea’…for those who had visited Singapore before, the sunny island surely makes the place tropical and filled with buzz. I do not know anyone had described Singapore as ‘Sexy’ but should the day come, I do hope the ‘sexiness’ does not refer to the ‘ass holes’ I have written in my blog. Right now ‘S’ certainly stands for ‘sordid’, for yours truly.

*Note: As an IT Support, unlocking a computer means that the user is unable to access (login) to his computer because the account was locked.