Regardless of race, language or religion…

Today: Two incidents, one theme.
To quarantine or not to quarantine?
This morning, my colleague, who’s a Kiwi, imposed quarantine on himself. He and my managing director returned from the Phillippines over the weekend, which unbeknownst to them was on the Ministry of Health’s ‘list’ at the time.
While a HQO (Home Quarantine Order) wasn’t required, it was suggested that as a foreign national he should stay at home. What made it silly was the fact that my MD, who is Singaporean, did not have to do likewise.
In addition, our resident Kiwi told the MoH that he had a flatmate, who was Italian. What about him?
Just try to avoid him, my colleague was told.
On top of that, his flatmate’s father, who also stays in Singapore, recently returned from China or Taiwan, which is obviously much higher on the ‘risk list’ than the Phillippines. However, as someone whose earnings fell into a higher income bracket, he was allowed to return to work.
The SARS virus does not discriminate between a CEO and a junior executive, the rich and poor, a Singaporean or someone from New Zealand. But somehow the opportunity cost of different individuals not going to work was calculated into this policy.
I had a ladies’ meeting at a well-known town club this evening. Halfway through the discussion, we were told by a waitress that we couldn’t put our papers on the table. Our hostess, a distinguished Spanish lady, looked surprised.
“No papers allowed on the table? Then, tell me, where can we put our papers?”
The waitress explained that no meetings were allowed at the lounge.
“Then what about those gentlemen over there? They also have paper on their table!”
Two important-looking white men were seated at the other end of the lounge, talking. The waitress spoke to them, but decided to let them be. To be fair, it did look like a normal conversation.
A more senior staff member was called over, repeating that we could not hold a meeting at the lounge.
“Then what’s the use of being a member of this Club? Where can we hold a meeting?”
We were told to use a function room! There were only four of us, for crying out loud. And each of us already ordered a drink.
So we kept our notes and packed away our Palm Pilots, and continued talking at the lounge. The management decided not to chase us out.
Another lady in the group then recounted why she didn’t join the club – they tried to chase away her maid! The uniformed maid was told that she couldn’t enter the premises. So she stood outside the main entrance while mother and child walked in. Then, the poor maid was told that she was blocking the entrance, and could she move to the back of the building, where she couldn’t be seen?
I am sure the club was following its bye-laws, which were possibly passed after some members grossly abused their privileges, but surely some tactfulness and understanding wouldn’t hurt anyone.


  1. D W

    Sometimes things that they do and say are mind boggling. And there is a fine line separating “logic” from “policy”.

  2. andrea

    When we got back from Malaysia, only Neil had to fill out a health declaration form. I guess the rest of us, one citizen and two permanent residents, were by default, SARS-free.

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