Truth be told, I have never stepped into a pub, well, at least not those in Singapore. Occasionally when I am overseas and I get brought to one, I'd oblige. But some people are not happy with our local watering hole, St James Power Station's discriminatory practice of allowing foreigners into its premises without collecting the $20 cover while locals have to ante up the amount. This is tantamount to subsidizing foreigners' hours of happiness. And the reason for this freebie? St James says that this will add to the cosmopolitan nature of the crowd, which will make it a more interesting place for everyone. Granted, St James is well within its right to have this discriminatory policy in order to achieve a business objective and be different from other watering holes, but still, in egalitarian Singapore, this stands out as a sore thumb.
One can go as far as to say that these foreigners are prostituting themselves, without their knowing it. They are used to attract other people who pay for the privilege of being in the pub's premises, people who perhaps appreciate the cosmopolitan nature of the place and are willing to pay, a place where there are ready Ang Mo's to whet their appetite for a conversation and perhaps something beyond. Well, some locals are not too happy on learning this (it is surprising that they only realise this now as St James has been in business for some time now) but the foreigners insist that they don't really get a freebie as they HAVE to buy the drinks (no, you can't bring your own). There is thus no difference - you get a free drink for paying for entry, but somehow, it is natural to feel a difference, a feeling that some people are treated 'more fairly' than others.
Whatever, I leave it to the pub to set their policies and run their business. Nobody can say that it is wrong until people start to stop coming. And locals can choose to continue to give St James their patronage if they see value in it. And foreigners can choose to continue to be made used of to attract the crowd, or not. Ultimately, its all a business, not an egalitarian society.