Sunday, January 07, 2007

Minority Oppression

The majority is often bullied by the minority. This sounds strange as anyone in a real democracy will tell you that that is not true. The majority decides, right? Well, no, not if you look at the coffeeshops in Singapore. Let me elaborate.

The law has stipulated that a part (20% to be exact) of any outdoor or non-aircon public eating places (such as local coffeeshops and outdoor spaces in Starbucks) must be demarcated as a smoking area. This means that a majority of spaces is for non-smokers. However, if reports are anything to go by, the majority non-smokers are complaining that smoke still gets in their eyes and noses, and in some cases, the law is broken by smokers blatantly smoking in non-smoking areas. Well, that's nothing new. There are people who find violating the law a particular challenge to be taken on head on.

The complaint, really, is that proprietors of these places of businesses are reluctant to help enforce the law because they are worried of losing the minority of their customers! That is strange logic indeed. I think there is a majority of customers who are against smoking at public places. Given a choice, would you be more concerned about the majority of your customers or the minority?

But of course, to a businessman, every single one of its customers matters. So they are reluctant to offend anyone. But if the majority non-smokers are complaining about the smoke still coming over to their side because of the ill-considered location of the smoking area, and the proprietor is not doing anything to resolve it, then I think the majority should just vote with its feet and not patronise that eating place. Wouldn't the businessman then have to go back to fundamentals and figure out that the majority actually contributes more to its profits than the minority? But of course, in Singapore, people rarely vote with their feet. They just do so with their mouth - all words and not action?

It is no wonder that some have a disdain for Singaporeans who complain incessantly and expect the authorities to do something about it. Well, we can't have NEA officers stationed at every eating place, otherwise our tax bill will just go up, which will be another cause for complaint.

The solution to this problem is actually very simple. And it must involve the people who are complaining. Just shut your mouth and go somewhere else that is more non-smoker friendly. After all, when the majority speaks, the business will take notice, right? Why should the minority oppress the majority?


Anonymous said...

For a minute, I thought this article deals about a more serious topic i.e. the issue of the minority races in Singapore being discriminated and oppressed both at the private and public sector. I was wrong, no Singaporean dare to raise such issue. How silly of me!

Epilogos said...

Sorry my 'article' disappointed. Until such a day when there is widespread discrimination (public/private, rich/poor, etc. etc.) in Singapore, then, and when I have something useful to say, I will comment.

Again, sorry to disappoint.

Anonymous said...

It's ok. Write about the "real" issues when there is a freer press in Singapore. Maybe in 2050.