Picture via Alice Fong's public Facebook profile

That Singaporean woman who berated a deaf and dumb cleaner at a food court

Picture via Alice Fong's public Facebook profile
Picture via Alice Fong’s public Facebook profile

This woman is going viral, and not in a good way:


In a Facebook post, a Euphemia Lee shared the video with the following account:

“Does anyone working in the Jurong area know this troll?

At lunch today at JEM, I had the gross misfortune of crossing paths with this disgusting, vile swine posing as a human being.

The cleaner misunderstood her grunting when he asked if he could clear her tray for affirmation. She abruptly exploded into cursing and violent upper body actions. She then told him that he should go and die and should not be given a coffin. She then continued eating until her husband returned, after which she insisted her husband drag the old man back to their table to APOLOGISE to her.

It was then that the manager of the cleaning company stepped in to explain that said old man was BOTH DEAF AND MUTE. In the video is what ensued… In a nutshell, her saying that old and disabled people should not be given employment nor forgiven for their mistakes. And that they should just be beggars and wait for the government to feed them.

I cannot understand how such an evil being can exist. She should start looking out for the Karma bus whenever she crosses the road.”

This woman is not a troll. Neither is she a “disgusting, vile swine posing as a human being”. She is just a sad product of elitism in Singapore.

She is not the first and won’t be the last.

Many Singaporeans behave this way. I encountered a similar situation a few years back at a restaurant at NEX mall. I did not record a video, but you can read the full retelling of the encounter here. 

I think the root of the problem is the elitist environment which we are brought up. There is a tendency to develop an elitist mindset, looking down on others who are supposedly of a “lower” status because of their education level or profession.

When I mention elitism, I am not referring to just those people who are in the upper echelon of society in Singapore, but an attitude of looking down on others who may be deemed economically or socially less successful than you are.

For instance, a hypothetical guy, George, may be come from a very humble background where his father is a taxi driver and his mother a housewife, living in a 3-room flat. However, George is very good with his studies and was one of the top students in his university. He started his first job with an investment bank, making much more money than his peers. George kind of have it smooth sailing in life because he is academically inclined. He view his successes in life to be attributable to his own hard work and look down on others who are less successful because he thinks they were lazy and probably deserve the shitty salary they get for cleaning his tables.

By the traditional definition of things, George is not exactly an “elite”. However, his attitude is definitely elitist.

George is a sad product of social engineering by the state. He buys into the notion that handouts are bad, social welfares are evil and the smartest deserve the highest salaries. He takes it to the extreme. Poor people are poor because they are lazy and did not study hard earlier in life. George, on the hand, worked hard during his school days. His sacrifices then justifies him looking down on others now.

Thing is, people are not all the same by nature or nurture.

Some people may just grow up in a family environment which is less conducive for studies than George. Maybe they have to help out at their parents’ food stalls after school; maybe their parents are not firm believers of education. Or perhaps, they are just not academically inclined. Does that make any of these people a lesser person than George?

I have a personal yardstick to judge characters. I observe how a person treat service staff like waiters, cleaners and porters. Do they bother to even say thank you or return a smile after the service? What is the tone like when speaking to these service staff?

I find this a very accurate judge of character. More often than not, a person who treat service staff in a shitty manner or treat them as invisible are usually horrible people.

Those who bother to return a smile, chat with and remember the name of the cleaning lady who wipe your table everyday at the office, those are the good guys.

In one of my previous jobs, there was a coffeeshop near the office where there is a cleaner who appears to be of mild intellectual handicap. Nonetheless, he is very enthusiastic with his job and do it with pride, cleaning the tables fastidiously, pouncing to clean the table once you get seated. Due to the speed and force which he wipe the table with, there tend to be some spills from his cloth, but he does a good job overall.

I observed some of my colleagues cringed at the fellow when he approached our table. Others would give him a smile and greet him, moving themselves subtly away so the guy can have more space to clean the table with his usual vigour. Go figure which colleagues are likely to be more accommodating when you work on a tough project together.

While it is okay to give yourself a pat on the back and be proud of what you have achieved in life, it is not really okay to think too highly of yourself compared to others.

Stay grounded. Stay humble.

I don’t believe in karma, but I do believe a little compassion and care for others make us a better person and the world a better place for everyone.


  1. “She is just a sad product of elitism in Singapore.” You are very accurate in saying that we should not blame the person, and should instead focus on the system they are brought up in.

    However, the comments in the Yahoo SG page which reposted your article shows the sad state of Singaporeans’ understanding of this issue, where they completely miss your point and repeatedly call her names.

    1. Regarding the significance of the environment’s effects on our behaviour, I would like to invite you to learn about The Venus Project, an organization advocating for social change on those lines.

      You can find out more from its free documentary “The Choice is Ours”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb5ivvcTvRQ

      I hope you find this educational, and if it resonates with you, please do help to publicize this direction for social change.

      1. Also, please check on the comment function. I had to break my comment into 2 posts because it would show an error “504 Gateway timed out”

  2. Instead of just swiping this poor lame excuse of a human being, how about we pay it forward too & helping some of these poor overworked cleaners by clearing our shit after we finish eating instead of waiting for them or someone else clear the tables?

  3. You have my exact sentiments about the decaying society within us. A couple of years back i met an elite guy, high status and held important positions but he got out of it as he could not tolerate the elitist mentality that exist among his peers. He said sadly the people who helm the top post tend to mostly live a life of lluxur and most are unable to empathise with the lower rungs of society . He commented that he knew of peers who do not take public transport since young and shun it. Without good upbringing of humility and care, i fear that Singapore has evidently become more elitist and it will get worse and society for the masses will suffer in general as policies are set without much tolerance for the lesser individual.

  4. this isn’t elitism, it is about the burgeoning sense of self-entitlement unfortunately found in some Singaporeans

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