Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Night Safari

We have a cool theme park in Singapore ... the name? Night Safari.

This is one thing about Singapore that I am mighty proud about. This is one tourist attraction that I do not feel like it is a trap, and that it is not trying to rip me off.

Why? It is professionally designed, and conceptualized. It is a theme park that trusts its customer who will behave even given the closeness they can get to the animals. They dare to think big, and they dare to execute. Not like many other places where corners are cut to save costs, they are willing to spend to polish the place, and trust that the higher fee that they charge will justify its exhibits. They do not make you feel like they are ripping you off because you enter the place and you feel like it is worth every single cent you put in.

Do you hear people complaining about Disneyland being a rip off? Yes they are expensive, but once you've entered the place, you can literally do anything you want without fearing that you'll be subjected to other "hidden" costs. Night Safari is very close to replicating that "not being ripped off" feel.

I've been there thrice .. and I would love to bring more people back there again - Singaporeans and tourists alike.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Complaining about bad service?

We got lotsa customers complaining about bad service. We appreciate that most of the time. Being in the restaurant business myself, I need these feedbacks to see how we should improve our operations, products, services etc.

But then .. there are those customers i wish i could strangle them, tell them off, burn them at the stake .... but being the civilized me and always having the "customer is king" attitude, I endure, smile ... But anyways, the complaints are always the same. Food is slow, Payment is slow etc.

It is very sad about some simple observations about many Singaporean customers, ask anyone who runs a restaurant and they will agree with you :

1) They expect to be treated like Kings and Queens
2) They think "I am paying money and service charge, of course I expect nothing less than what I demand"
3) They think their money is BIG DEAL
4) Even if they are told they have a certain waiting time for their foods, they still complain.
5) They finish their foods, then they complain - when you couldn't do anything to resolve the issue by then.
6) They can't put themselves in other people's shoes.
7) You apologize, give them discounts, and they will still want to give you a hard time. Should I retract my apologies and discounts then, because if they are not pleasing to you, what will?
(I had even given customers free meals before and they are still angry. HUH???)

If there are any of my customers who are reading my entry and had experience bad or slow service at my restaurant, I apologize, and I would also hope that, you guys be more forgiving. I am just asking Singaporeans to be more understanding, forgiving and gracious. We're trying to make a living, by selling you our foods and providing a nice ambiance.

Stop thinking spending your money at restaurants will mean you can start treating people like they are your slaves. The next time readers, when you eat at any restaurants please keep the following in mind:

1) We're just humans.
2) To you, you're just waiting for your food and paying up when you're done. To us, we have to do the following:
- Send you to your tables, send you your menus, explain to you about the menus if necessary, take your orders, send your orders, prepare and make your drinks or salads and soups, send you your bill, collect and process your bills/cards, return your change/receipts, and clear your tables, and set the tables for the next customer.
3) And we do not have 1 service staff to attend to each customer, typically, it is 3-4 persons, doing all the above (and other things as well) and serving 70 of you all. Think I should hire more? Are you will to pay more?
4) Ever waited long for your payment? The bottleneck could be the credit card machine. OR if multiple customers wanted to pay all at the same time, you'd have to wait your turn. More machines/staff to process payments? I'll ask again, are you willing to pay for them?
5) Look around and see if we're trying to slack on our work. Seriously. Does it look like we're not trying our best to serve ALL of YOU??

All I am urging, is that customers do not just ask and complain why services suck. But they should also ask themselves, am I being reasonable or gracious at the same time? If you want to complain, we'd be happy to hear them, and accept criticism, but also let us offer you a way to compensate you, in a form of a discount, replacement or whatever. And please please please, appreciate it.

PS. A friend recently asked "Is there a place where I can place complaints abt bad restaurants and all?" Most restaurants allow you to channel your feedbacks via a form or something. Why not go direct? Instead of complaining and destroy other people's reputation via a blog, maybe you could help by giving them advice or feedbacks to help them improve directly?

Remember, you're not really helping anyone by being nasty.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Do Singaporeans complain too much?

Singaporeans complain too much. We read reports and people talking about this ... I am sure we're familiar hearing about how the government (man heard it from so many sources i am not even sure which government person who said it) saying that Singaporeans should not criticize if they've got no concrete suggestions or solutions to come forward with.

Really .... personally, I feel Singaporeans should be allowed to complain, and criticize ... even if they've got no solutions to boot. Why? Because I firmly believe in the power of the people. I firmly believe that enough Singaporeans have gone through enough education to learn to differentiate what is senseless bashing versus nonsensical babblings. I believe the government should let the people decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong.

Well, if the people can't do that efficiently all the time, we should still allow them to learn from their mistakes. Maybe a government who acts like parent will have to learn to accept the fact that the children has grown up. The parent's guidance is important is instilling the right values for the kids when they are young and growing, but when they have grown up, it is time to let them make their own decisions and learn to take responsibility from their own actions.

So getting back to the issue of complaints. There are constructive complaints and criticisms, and there are the senseless ones ... and usually it is the constructive ones that will result in one thing - discussion. We should promote discussions as much as possible, among the people, and between the state and its nation. Actions to discourage discussions (like the use of fear tactics and lawsuits etc) can result in conformity and the lack of innovation. The Singapore economy is in dire need of creative and innovative ideas to push for the next growth, and the state should do all it can as a start, to promote active, healthy and most importantly, FREE discussions. Let the market run itself ....

Thursday, May 26, 2005

concerns about criticism

Yesterday I had this conversation with my friend.

ywchai says: (6:08:17 PM)
   i wanna start writing on my "singaporecritic.blogspot.com"

says: (6:08:37 PM)
   you better get out of the country first .. seriously

says: (6:08:51 PM)
   i really believe they will come after you.

The fact that I have to be worried about voicing my concerns about my own country boggles me ... i mean ... this is a perfect example of how Singaporeans are so scared about saying anything ... ANYHING at all about the system ... even in general ....

i bet if they had a machine that can read minds ... the migration rate and suicide rate of Singaporeans would explode

Revenge of the Sith?

Now I might be reading too much into this .. but watching the Revenge of the Sith .. made me think about how similar it was on Mr Bush's self righteousness on what he believes is the correct thing to do ... to push for war in Iraq.

Same thing .... Anakin never thought what he did was wrong ... even up to the point he was facing his wife and Obi-wan ... he believes the Jedis are staging a rebellion to betray the Republic ...

Bush refers to the soldiers of US as on a "crusade" .... and uses religion to back up his war .. and keeps saying God is on his side (US side) .... well how about Allah? Is there a difference? He uses false intelligence to go to war and even when it was proven that those information were wrong, he still thinks the war is justified.

Shouldn't he be put to trial by the UN?

Oh no ... the "emperor" shld never be questioned. :) the Empire is already under his control ... there is no senate .....
"Tum tum tum .. tum tum tum ..." (The Imperial March theme plays)

A*STAR incident

I am sure everyone has read about this ..
Mr Chen Jiahao ... 23 year old ... blogger ... wrote about A*STAR and Mr Philip Yeo ... supposedly about some "defamatory" comments about A*STAR and Mr Yeo himself ("supposedly" because it was never stated which were the defamatory comments). So, Mr Chen got threatened with a vague lawsuit that did not specify which were the bad statements, and he eventually gave in and took down the ENTIRE site, with the exception of an apology.

I have a few thoughts ... very deep concerned thoughts about the whole situation. This is getting rather disturbing. I am living in a country where the Govt threatens with the all expensive lawsuit against a student, when he basically made some comments that the Govt found offensive OVERSEAS, in blog hosted on a FOREIGN server.

What was the Big Brother so worried about that made them go to such extent? If the purpose was to prevent further discussion about the comments, their actions had definitely resulted in the opposite. Many many more sites now spring up in discussion on about the comments, but about concerns of how ridiculous the actions of the Mr Yeo was.

Sorry Mr Chen, you were never meant to win. You probably didn't even wanna win anything, but they struck you down anyways. They know you (or any Singaporeans to begin with) would not be able to afford the time and the money to fight the case. You're already guilty before you could fight it. They accused you of defamatory, when they did not even specify how you did it. You could have resisted, and they could then have you jailed for not giving into their demands to remove your blog.

I am wondering, if I started saying how I hated Microsoft in my entire blog. Or dedicate a special blog just to bash how i dislike their products or Bill Gates. Would Mr Gates come after me? Probably not. Why? Because if it was baseless, unfair accusations and comments, no one will give a shit and some people might even leave comments to bash me. There are "invisible" market forces who will balance the comments out and readers will decide for themselves if what I write make sense.

But the Singapore Government apparently do not yet have the same level of trust for its own people. They do not trust the people to make up their minds on what is right and what is wrong. I had spoken to some people who supports the Singapore government's harsh treatments and strong arm tactics to keep the country at peace, and use that as a reasoning why we should trust the government to know what's best. That is a very dangerous proposition. It is a same situation to having Microsoft controlling 90% of the browser market and you see how they had slacked in their product development of IE. I am sure both Microsoft and the Singapore Government will go explain why they still are the innovators, while at the same time destroying those companies and people who threaten their dominance.

What is the eventual result of using "fear" as a tactic to ensure peace in Singapore? The younger generation become subdued and content with what they have. They do not question, and accept all decisions by the government with little actions to resist. These Singaporeans are not those who would like to concern themselves with the way the government runs the show. They just want to make their living and make stay happy. They are probably not interested to give actions to make the country better, just their own lives because it is "not their problem". If these are the type of Singaporean that the government wants to groom, I'd say they've done a mighty job. But what I think, is that the Singapore Government wants something else.

Singapore Government wants entrepreneurs, they want talents and they want a nation that loves its country. They are trying to sell us songs that make us feel that "This is my country, this my flag, this my family, these are my friends, We are Singaporeans". But the opposite is happening. The foreign talents who come in do not "love the country", they love "the money". The younger Singaporeans who love the country feels that they can't do what they want, say what they want, and they leave. Like a feeder school, Singapore is breeding young Singaporeans they wish to keep , but they can't stay loyal. Those who stay and can't do/say what they want, are constantly looking for ways to "get out". Singapore wants to have a nation of young entrepreneurs who takes risks and think creative, but at the same time, Singapore also wants control.

So ... what do you want Singapore? What do you want? If you want change, you have to let go. Just when I thought I see signs changing, like the relaxing of the censorship laws to allow more uncut movies, and our very own "speaker's corner", things like the A*STAR incident totally destroys my faith in the Government. The Govt says something and does another. They claim to promote freedom of speech, yet they do not execute all the way. They claim they hear, but they do not listen. You want to make a speech at the "speaker's corner"? Sure, as long as you head down to the police post to register. I know changes are hard. But if you want changes, you should not execute it in a crippled manner and then use it to support your future claims for the lack of interest in it.

I love to see a better and freer Singapore. But the day is not today ... and from the looks of it, we still have a long way to go.

Can I say whatever I want?

Can I say whatever I want in a blog? This is a tricky question ... recently apple sued some bloggers for releasing some confidential information that were supposedly not to be released under NDAs. I guess that would be not right due to the fact that there were some legal bindings to the information concerned.

How about regular ramblings and criticism about things in general? Do we have to watch what we say? Is it due to the fact that blogs are public, we have to be extra careful about what we write? I mean ... do you have to justify your criticism or complaints in your blog? Do you have to think about what your thoughts are before writing them out? Isn't that almost like censorship? But if blogs are personal thoughts and opinions .... why should it need to be subjected to journalistic integrity?

Eg. Do I have to justify if I dislike someone's face?

If I have to watch everything I say on my blog in fear of offending anyone .. and be politically correct about all the things I blog about .... I'd rather not blog anymore ....

Singapore Critic

I will be changing my blogname to Singaporecritic ... since I realised that many of my blog entries are about my thoughts and criticisms about many issues, movies .. and every damn thing that bothers me ... well ... guys please update the blog URL ..


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Too many blogs ..

Too many blogs .... I had started sonysuxx.blogspot.com, nintendoplay.blogspot.com etc ... but my time is limited ... to see myself updating 3-4 blogs everyday is tough ... very tough ...
but at the same time .. if i talk about every damn thing i am interested in my blog ... it will also lose its focus ....

well heck it .... to me a blog is like a diary ... i will not keep multiple diaries to keep track of different things ....

so .. here i am gonna stop updating elsewhere and continue to blog here ....

how ... i am gonna change the name of my blog soon .. so guys ... hang in there :) i'll keep u posted

Sunday, May 15, 2005

For the Love of the game

My love for TV console gaming has sort of seen a resurgence in the past few years. And there's one gaming firm I love. Nintendo. So here's a new blog dedicated to my favourite underdog.


Friday, May 13, 2005

boys will be boys and girls will be girls

u girls will never see the value of us boys going gaga over boxes that you deem unworthy of the hundreds we put in .. and we boys will never see why you women will plunk down hundreds for a piece of mass produced sewn handiwork

Customer is King

I run a restaurant ... and assuming most who reads this blog are my personal friends, you should know. My restaurant's main target group are young working adults ... Yuppies? Rich, well paid executives? Ok ... you get the picture ... And in the past year, i've seen many of them come and go in my restaurant ... and fair to say that most of them are rather civil. But there is an annoying pattern I have noticed among this group, and luckily they are not the majority. But I do see quite a number of them.

1) They think they should be given seats even if we're full.
2) I said "sorry I can't give you an estimate of how long you have to wait". "Are you telling me to leave?". Do they have to be angry and make it sound like we're out to offend them? I mean, why get so short tempered?
3) They expect to be treated like Kings (and Queens). "Why do i have to wait to pay?" "Sorry sir, as you can see, we have to clear other people's bills that came before you." "you should have someone handling this what?!" ???
4)" Can I sit there?" (pointing to a 4 seater). "Sorry madam, the table is for bigger groups and we expect a crowd tonight". "But I don't see anyone now what! And the 2 seater is so uncomfortable!"
5)"Do I get a discount with any credit card?""Yes sir, UOB""Can I use this stamp card to redeem my free meal too" Sorry sir, you can't combine offers""So? I am sure you can make an exception!!" (after much haggling, my manager took the card, then realised, the stamp card has expired 1 mth ago) " Sorry sir, the card has expired". "So what? I want to see your boss""Sorry my boss is not around tonight, I am the manager in charge here. I am sorry I can't combine the offers""I am not coming back here again!"

I really wish I could talk back and scream at these idiots. "Have you ever ran a restaurant?""Are you fucking blind you can't see there are 4 persons serving 75 of you fuckers?""You think I should hire more staff? Are you gonna pay for them?""If we've told you the wait for the food might be long, why are u complaining?""I have said sorry and have taken the item off your bill, why do you still wanna make a big fuss? What do you want? Kowtow?""Can you be more considerate?? Why take up table for 4 when you have only 2 persons??"

All these bad arrogant spoilt brats, taught me to truly appreciate those understanding ones. I channel my anger to treat the good customers even better than usual. And why isit that always those who say "Don't worry, I can tell you're busy", are those foreigners? This is not a stereotype ... this is unbiased observations. Singapore still have a long way to go before we become a gracious society.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Geeky over Tiger :P

Just installed a copy of the new Macintosh OS on my powerbook .. and man am i impressed ...

It boots much much faster.... and dashboard .... so damn cool .... u windows users should really check out dashboard .... it makes your computer... much more gadgetary .... funny how on windows, users hate spyware and mini bots installed in their computers .. this dashboards to me, are like little trinkets of virtual gadgets that u install .. and can have them pulled from a drawer anytime u wish ....

then this spotlight feature which i didn't think much of ... turns out to be a life saver for me on more occasions than one ... think of it as google for the desktop ... u type in a keyword and even before u finish typing the word, matches start appearing .. it is that fast .... and the word can appear anywhere ... incl a word doc, an email message .. damn .. this thing finds anything anywhere ... u gotta see it to believe it

ichat? .. man this new baby is cool too ... I have my ICQ, AIM, Jabber and .Mac users all one 1 list ... I just wish they could allow me to add MSN and yahoo users too .... then it would be IM nirvana :)


Dark water ...

Last night .... got a call from Colombia .... a supplier called to tell me their CEO's visit had to be brought forward and will be arriving right the next day. I was grateful for that call. Yes, not just for the notice .. but for waking me up. I heard a weird noise coming from the kitchen. It was like someone erected a fountain or waterfall at the back of the apt.

Well ... close enough ... the kitchen was flooded ... apparently in the back room behind the kitchen which houses the washing machine, a water pipe broke and it was like "the day after tomorrow" happening there. If I had not woke up earlier .. it could have been wetter ... and the waterbill could have been even worse ...

Well .... I am glad I got woken up in the middle of the night ... for once. .. :)

Updates ....

ok .. it is time for more ramblings....

I am so thoroughly tied up with so much work it is not even funny. I am gonna make myself a promise now ... I will update this blog as often as i can ...

often pple stare into the crystal and wonder .. waht do i see in the future ...
I find it even tougher to look back the past few weeks and ask .. wat do i see? ... man my memory is definitely failing me ..

random things that hit me:

1) Spending too much time with my Nintendo DS .... completed this game called PacPix ... damn it is good .... but way too short ... finished it like in 3 days .... basically u draw a pacman .. it comes to life and it chomps up things on the screen. well it really is not as simple as it sounds .... but it is real fun .. :P while it lasted .. Now I am wearing a minish cap wondering around the land of Hyrule :) .... Zelda rocks ...

2) Ok .... been counting down to E3 .. was so excited about the new Xbox 360 ... until all the leaks basically revealed every damn thing there is abt it .... and the announcment is still at least 2 days away .... MS still has a lot to learn from Apple and Nintendo .. even at keeping secrets ... Sony Ps3 somehow doesn't get me as excited as what is coming from MS and Nintendo ... Revolution is just way too mysterious and it is generating some serious hype purely due to speculation .. damn they are good at keepi ng their mout shut. And one thing i can't wait for? Nintendo Online ... it is free :P .. eat that Xbox .... but well .. the Xbox is looking like the coolest piece if gear ... now unless PS3 blows me off this E3 announcement, my money is going to Mr Gates this fall.

3) Star Wars on the horizon. Well .. the 3rd one ... and reviews coming in are all positively better than the first 2 .... What more can I say .... May the force be with everyone ....

4) I am undergoing lotsa personal changes this past few months .. I have explored things i never thought i would .. and I am implementing changes in my life that i never thought I would .. some of them actions do conflict with my previous stands on certain issues .... now ... this is cryptic ... just as a lot of my personal posts .. but hey .... let's just say that I am learning to let things loose .... and not be so stubborn and anal when it comes to handling problems..... let go ... and not be so hard on myself ... i have been suffering many mental disturbances .. and i am actually improving my mental health in the process ....

Well ... here's the first post of many to come ...
hang on to your boots readers :P