Outburst at Singapore food court stirs sympathy for workers from China
Chinese and Singaporean commenters weigh in on customer’s demand that worker address him in English
A video of a Singaporean man berating a Chinese food court server in the city state for not speaking English has ignited debate in both countries over the treatment of workers from China.
The clip was originally uploaded to YouTube in 2014 but only set off the online storm after surfacing last week on the Facebook group “Singapore Peasant”.
In the video, the man tells the woman server not to speak to him in Mandarin.
“You’ve come to Singapore. This is my country. I am Singaporean. You must learn how to speak a bit of English,” he says, speaking in both English and Mandarin.
“Here, we have another problem with the government policy of bringing in foreign workers. In this case this lady is from China and she cannot understand English.
“Go back to your country ... This is my country.”
The woman continues working, saying in Mandarin: “So Singapore can only have Singaporean people?”
The video was shared widely on social media in China, with commenters questioning the man’s command of English and his right to insist on its use.
“Forcing her to speak English – where does his sense of superiority come from?” one commenter said.
Others noted that “80 per cent of Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese and speak Chinese” and that “Mandarin is one of Singapore’s official languages”.
Commenters in Singapore on Facebook described the man as a bully and an embarrassment to the city state.
“If this is a case of government failed policy, then blame the government and leave the lady alone,” one commenter said.
“This is bullying, you wouldn’t want Singaporeans who work overseas to get such treatment by their locals, would you?”
Another said: “Singapore’s national language is actually Malay.”
Singapore has four official languages – English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil – but its national language is Malay.
Ethnic Chinese account for three-quarters of Singapore’s population which also includes Malays and Indians.