Rickshaw Uncle Rips-off Mild-Mannered Tourists and Other Digressions

Not going embed it myself, but the point for me in this debacle storm in a rickshaw seat, is the blatant violence inherent in many of the Singaporeans' comments to the YouTube post.


Actually, I think those Brit guys were brave to stand up boldly to the typical tourist rip-off rickshaw uncle trying to cheat them of their meagre back-packer dollars with his scammy little ride...


Seriously though, the reactions of the Singaporeans commentors are way over the top. Some are really quite vicious, abusive and totally out of proportion to the minor offense caused.

Those guys on the other hand were actually tourists just mucking around after a few beers, they weren't really drunk at all, they weren't nasty, just cheeky. Considering what a lot of soccer hooligans can get up to, let alone the abuse *I* hurl at taxi-drivers on an all too frequent basis (and deservedly so!), these guys were mild and benign: they didn't abuse uncle, swear at him or threaten or do him any violence...

Those lynch-mob commentors however, OMG! No wonder Singaporeans still support the death penalty and caning, so many people are blame, hate and violent retribution crazy here! (Maybe - see below - Harry Lee is right and Singapore really isn't ready for democracy!)

I thought human society had progressed beyond that attitude. Another incidence of Internet mob-rule, where anonymity goes with feeling justified as a part of large group, and that can cause depersonalization and "other"ization of the targets. This then can promote the violent, dare I say it, sub-human emotions such as revenge and aggression, allowing physical violence to become unleashed, and once it starts, it's like a wildfire... I wouldn't doubt that many of these commentors WOULD be prepared to actually lynch these guys had they the opportunity.

Just look at the rapid escalation of racial violence that happened in Sydney last year with blogs and SMS urging people on to more and more stupid irrational acts...

To say that this surrender to the emotions is OK because they're natural emotions is to fall into the naturalist fallacy. Hell, arsenic is one of the 92 naturally occurring elements, how *natural* can you get! Doesn't mean it's good as a health drink though!

In this, I differ from my flatmate in that I'd follow Katherine Hepburn through the swamp. Being of a rather romantic bent (don't scoff, on occasion I can be), I do believe Nature IS what we put were on earth to rise above. Those emotions might have been relevant 200,000 years when our brains were being formed in some hostile, competitive environment, but they're an impediment to peace and harmony in a mature society (am I referring to Singapore? We're not even ready for democracy yet!) these days. We have written rules and laws these days... [say it, I know you want to... Rules were meant to be broken!]

However, I admit I'm only human: I'd also certainly follow Dorothy Parker into the Algonquin for a martini or three, so long as nobody got hurt...

[Addendum: Here is something Singaporeans should get angry over.


Here is where they (or anyone) can do something about it.



The thing is, it is SSOOOOooooo easy to let oneself slip into that lynch-mob mode, to forego the only true thing that makes us human: our conscious rationality (free will, if you like)... We must be eternally vigilant against our human frailties, including, ironically, the limitations of our rationality - as Jonathan Haidt points out in The Happiness Hypothesis, the urges of our subconscious (do I mean primitive?) mind are HUGE!

Join a lynch mob, take the easy road, push with the crowd rather than against it, have that fourth martini, buy a product merely because it's ubiquitous and therefore popular (like the iPod, urrgh), support a bad political policy or philosophy (Objectivists: I be talking to YOU) because it helps us financially at a cost to others, believe in God, pick up another $150 transvestite hooker in the 4FoWs, masturbate publicly at a ladies' basketball match, upsize at MacDonalds - it's all so easy to let oneself go...

These weaknesses however, they must be... controlled... must be... crushed...


Oops, slipped into parody mode there. That's so easy too, at least it is for me. Eternal vigilance, I say, eternal vigilance.


I know, I know, I should be working on The NaNoWriMo "Novel". Word-count unchanged. Some plot ideas elaborated over lunch with Iz today - I sure TALK a damn good novel.



Posted by: expat@large on Nov 08, 07 | 9:57 pm | Profile


i guess you were born without a father.
the trishaw's charge of $10 for 3 grown-ups using pure human pedal power, you called that "rip-off"??? what kind of a man are you? you're an aussie, right? i'd worked in the airline industry for 12 years, so you dont come here and start blasting singaporeans and the government. aussies are worst! the racists there are evil to the core.

after reading your past postings, i've gathered you have a thing against the singaporeans and its government. my question to you is - why are you earning your bread and butter here? its the singapore government's coercion, is it??

Posted by: Lauretta on Nov 09, 07 | 9:09 pm

Hmmmm. Think I'll keep quiet on this one.

Posted by: Dick on Nov 09, 07 | 11:30 pm

Lauretta: hey, thanks for being brave enough to respond and answer this, you're truly a champ, I love you! Now sit back and enjoy the ride...

Aaaannnndd... I just love it when people miss the point!


Q: What does the expression "seriously though" imply?

A: That the person wasn't 100% serious about what just went immediately before...

Sigh. So do I really think it was a case of tri-shaw rip-off? No. And I am going to discuss that actual incident? No. Was my post about that, really? No. Was it about how out of control, out of perspective, some of the responders were? And didn't I then move the ciriticism to Australians, Hong Kongers? In fact, was I not criticising the weakness of all humanity? Yes.

Was I just tempting people with no sense of humour or capacity for irony to respond with the "rip-off" comment? Yes.

Step to the top of the dias, Ms Lauretta! A kiss for the judges.. mmwa, mmwa!

Now go check the Wikipedia for Devil's Advocate. I admit it, I sucked you in to this...


No, I *was* born with a father, but he died when I was 5 months old. Your point? That I am a bastard? Technically, wrong. Blogwise, moot.

Great start to your comment, btw, it really tells everyone in the world a lot more about you than you thought possible.


Thanks for reading the past posts: that shows a determination to hate me that many people with your depth of feeling wimp out on, so hats off to you.


In some of past posts (you were not specific so I can't respond to direct complaints) I *have* said that Singaporans can be insular and that they may lack a global sense of proportion. Thanks for verifying that I was correct, at least in your individual case - despite your 12 years of seeing the inside of airplanes, pilots underpants and 5-star foreign hotels. I am presuming with little indeed no evidence, that you were a "Singapore Girl" - OMG! step away from that mirror!!!! there's more to life than how you look! But in your case, maybe not. (Woo-oo, ad hominen!)

Singaporean taxi-drivers I DO have a thing about, but that is only because I am in Singapore. And I certainly am not alone in my opinion - read the last few months ST for a squillion examples... Anyway, my first anti-taxi driver posts were about HK taxi-drivers because I lived in HK at the time. If blogging existed in 1996 I would have blogged about Sydney taxi-drivers.

Singaporean Govt? - hey, c'mon, if you don't think it sucks like Mussolini eating spaghetti then there is seriously something wrong with you. Is all I have to say about that....


Re: Australia - did you not read what I said in THIS VERY POST about the racial violence in Sydney?


I am in Singapore because that's where my company's office is. I'd rather be elsewhere for sure, HK in particular. This is a shithole, you may not realise it because the streets are clean and trains run on time (a la fascist Italy in the 30's) but it's a true shithole nevertheless.

That's all. Did you think I'm here for the snow-skiing?


p.s. I do think Australia can be similarly insular shithole too, full of violent racist swine as you say, which why I am not there - and, unlike here, I do not feel safe in the streets of Sydney or Melbourne after dark, but at least it has snow so you can go skiing without a passport.

p.p.s. I was dared to put up a post like this!!


Dick: thanks for your support. Wimp.

Posted by: expat@large on Nov 10, 07 | 12:59 am

Right. Your office is here. You lived here.
You would rather be somewhere else BUT you have no option. If you have nothing good to say about your host country shut the fuck up.

Thailand, Philippines or probably Cambodia are the places you should go to. And get the kind of money the trishaw uncle is earning.

To a certain extent, I do agree our government sucks, but is yours any better???

If you have guts, write to the Straits Times forum and blast the government. The cheek of you to say "I was dared to put up a post like this!!" What a wimp.

Posted by: Lauretta on Nov 10, 07 | 9:30 am

... pause...

Better idea: Why don't YOU write to the Straits Times seeing as how you agree with me that the Gahmen sucks.

E@L is not a citizen in Singapore. You are. It's in YOUR interest to do something about the rotten system: the nepotism, the lack of transparency with taxpayer's money, the dealing with corrupt regimes, the money laundering... He can only whinge from the sidelines.

The fact is that he CAN whinge because he is not a citizen, not a PR, just residing here and really could do his job from anywhere else, in fact one of his colleagues does the same job based out of country Thailand.

And one day he *will* be gone.

However, YOU will be still be here, and your children and their children will have to grow up here. And the Gahmen will still suck unless something is done. So why don't YOU and the rest of heartland Singapore do try and do something about it?

Now this comment this realize, is bordering on the seditious. If E@L was living in HK or Australia he could post this comment without a moments hesitation. But in Singapore... he might pause...

Maybe it's because he truly is a wimp.

Posted by: expat@large on Nov 10, 07 | 5:15 pm

Well it's a no win isn't it? English 'travellers' trying to come up with a Youtube hit versus old Uncle who smokes too much and probably owns an apartment block. Hence my reticence.

Posted by: Dick on Nov 10, 07 | 11:39 pm

Hey expat@large.
Firstly I don't think $10 for a rickshaw ride is too much to ask for. You think we're a third world country? You want rickshaw rides for 20cents? So if we go to UK today and decided that a simple meal in a fast food restaurant is too expensive we should insult the restaurant for lack of 'class', for being stupid and ignorant and insolent enough to charge so much for 'lousy' food?

If you're have poor meagre backpacker dollars, then don't hop on the 'scammy rickshaw rides'. It just goes to show how cowardly you are. Turn the situation around to a bunch of hongkongers doing that in London. Would you say the same? This does not go only for you. For all those who have evaluated the situation and still sided with the britons, if you did that only because they're caucasians and they're the world superpower, fuck you.

You are only siding the britons because they are britons. The uncle worked just as hard for his every cent as Bill Gates did. What has he done to deserve such ill treatment, and so little support afterward?

And expat@large, how about we singaporeans actually do care about our country? As a minister, do you care about your country first before you care about your family? Of course, you do. But as a father, do you care about how the neighbourhood is developing before you bring your child up properly? We, who are true blue Singaporeans, care about our citizens, young and old. We are not people who pretend to be global-minded and think of how to stop the Western oppression on the Middle East.

Read about darfur? Yes, their needs are more desperate than ours. You mean you can't go to work in the day and read Harry Potter at night? Must you finish the Harry Potter series before you can properly do your work? We can be global-minded and be active in our home affairs. There's a thief in your backyard and you're busy trimming your neighbour's bushes.

Anyway since you can't multi-task, then don't push yourself too hard. Go find your world peace in whichever world you come from (you do sound caucasian, and I hope you are, because if you're Asian, you'll have to buck up your idea if not bruce lee if he were alive would rip your fucking balls apart)

Posted by: audioman on Nov 11, 07 | 3:17 am

get off your high horse!

dont come here and tell us how to run our lives. you are just a bloody fat bloke having a sad life wishing you were somewhere else. and a bloody coward as well.

Posted by: Lauretta on Nov 11, 07 | 10:35 am

Should I stoop the level of these commentors? Blatantly racist taunts, anonymous posters calling *me* a coward!

Holy fuck - I had a 1000 word rejoinder to audioman, but you know what? Fuck that and fuck him.

I think the actual point of my post is well made by the level of comment and point-missing by audioman and lauretta - people SEVERELY overreact.

And as you people can't behave, this topic is closed.

I sigh for humanity.

Posted by: expat@large on Nov 11, 07 | 12:56 pm

Aw fuck, it's too good to delete: Here is my response to the racist 'audioman'...


Audioman: dude, if you were in the frontline of those 300 Spartans and the rain of arrows and spears came down, you would be the only survivor, you miss the point so completely.

My post is not about the rickshaw driver or the Brit guys. It's not about the actual rip-offs or tourists scams or bad-behaviour on the street. $10 bucks, 50cents, $3000... It's about how the sense of being ripped-off or offended makes people feel.

I just used that to talk about how it possible to push people's buttons - by trying to offend with a totally *facetious* comment about the rickshaw Brits.

And of course people respond a la their programming. I should not be surprised.

In fact I was not SIDING with anyone. And certainly not because they were Brits, jesus, people! Stop projecting!

Actually what I did before writing that post was look objectively and as dispassionately at the video as I could and saw that there was NO aggression or real nastiness there, just some cheeky guys cheating on a ride. Whoopy-fucking-doo.

Then I read a fair swathe of the comments and thought - holy shit, were we looking at the same video? The downright lynch-mob mentality that was feeding on itself in these comments is amazing. I thought it was worth a blog post...

(The other thing I did was go out to dinner with a few other bloggers and have quite a few beers!)


So when I put up my sarcastically inverted (from what most commentors were saying) comment, I did it as a joke and to get you thinking about the situation. Not to turn your vitriol from those Brits on to poor little old social commentor me...

Has it got so bad that no-one gets me?

Do we really have to put a smiley face up every time we tell a joke?

And now, once my situation is explained (again), I know you're got hate me even more. That's because I just explained where you went wrong, and people don't like having their short-sightedness pointed out to them...


A point about Singapore I did try to raise is that the death penalty and caning are often way over-reactions to the crimes committed. Automatic death penalty for small amounts of drugs! Man that is an affront to civilisation... But we can take that up another time...

But really my point was about people like you and Lauretta (and me!), ordinarily eminently reasonable people no doubt, but who can have limited sense of proportion when they get angry, scared, feel affronted or feel cheated, and that anger can be way too severe for the actual injury caused by the stimulus. This anger can be feed by feelings of support from others (and this can happen on the Internet as well as in a physical crowd), and then a mob-rule mentality of self-justification takes over and all sorts of violence and lynch-mob activity can rise to the surface. This a well known psychological phenomenon, described extensively in certain evolutionary -biology texts, and it probably had its genetic root back in the days when food (gathered or hunted) was being distributed amongst the tribe. Those who stood up for themselves aggressively for not getting their "fair" share might have ended up getting more than the actually deserved and in times of famine, they were the ones who survived. And those genes are now in us.

As for the mob-violence, it happened in Australia with those beach-side riots, it happened in America during KKK meetings, in happened to a entire country in Nazi Germany, it happened during race riots in Soweto... So, while I bitch about Singaporean legal system, I know it's a universal human trait to over-react and that is why we all must be continuously aware of the circumstances which could provoke it.

Hey, I've just rewritten my entire post in an attempt to explain it to you.

Multi-tasking, audio-dude? You can care about all those things, and then you can vote for a new government and get it. It's called democracy.


By the way, audiodude, I reread your comment: "you do sound caucasian, and I hope you are, because if you're Asian, you'll have to buck up your idea if not bruce lee if he were alive would rip your fucking balls apart."

Excellent. You're a class act. People around the world now know exactly what sort of person YOU are.

Now, go and look this word up: racism.


Lauretta: Excellent. You're a class act too.

And the reason, Lauretta, that I was dared to put up this post is that a friend said I would get heaps of hate mail from people who don't understand that my support of the Brit guys in paragraph 2 was facetious.

He was so right. (Well hardly heaps, but you get my point).

And so am I.


OK, topic is open again. I overreacted.



Posted by: expat@large on Nov 11, 07 | 1:25 pm

I think the young Brits/Poms were disgusting in the way they treated that elderly gentleman who peddled them where they wanted to go, and yet they refused to pay him appropriately. Shame on them!! Absolutely reprehensible actually!! It saddened me deeply... that poor man - such disrespect - how dare they!!

But I also think please don't judge all Caucasions as being like them - This is unfair. Every individual is unique and a separate entity - no matter their race or creed or colour. Racism and hatred and thoughts of brutal, sadistic vengeance and mob mentality is definitely showing itself here - and it's not nice. It's damn scary actually. E@L has a good point there!

We're all human - Peace, love, forgiveness, tolerance, huh?? I think we should correct people when they're wrong - yes - really give it to them - but let's not desire to cut them up into little pieces or burn them at the stake, or cut off their whatevers - that makes the person/people seeking retribution far worse than the perpetrator/s of the crime! Let's keep things in perspective.

Posted by: Sister on Nov 11, 07 | 10:09 pm

Trouble is there isnít enough information here to go on. Were the young Brits vicious racist thugs or just typical clowns taking the piss to show their mates back home how easy it is to get on Youtube? Did they genuinely need a slow ride down the road or were they just 'having a laugh like'? My guess is they were harmless arseholes. They may even have learned something. As for Uncle does he already have a few million in the bank or is he working all hours to support a starving family with hopefully a bit left over for cigarettes? Did he suss the lads as piss-takers and decided to do a bit of piss-taking himself? Or is $10 a fair price for services offered? It is impossible for an outside observer to take sides or make a judgment....unless....unless we allow said judgment to be based on ethnicity. If we go back to the original post we see that E@L was commenting on the comments which clearly demonstrate how thinly covered such cultural sensitivities are. One is free to work oneself into a righteous frenzy if one wishes but basically what we have here is just a bit of blogging.

Posted by: Dick on Nov 11, 07 | 11:34 pm

I agree Dick - just a bit of blogging from E@L - and the young Brits weren't exactly thugs, just disrespectful and pretty mean with their money - $10 seems a fair price (personally I'd have thrown in a bit more). But yes, they were harmless, and not violent or anything - thus my comments on the "let's keep things in perspective" point - no need for thoughts of sadistic vengeance etc.!

I'm half Pommie myself (wasn't game to admit that though - yes a wimp also!)

Basically I'm trying to be diplomatic and HEAL things - I'm a bit like that!!

One thing I've decided upon though - don't think I'll rush to Singapore in a hurry thinking I'd be welcome with open arms!!

Posted by: Sister on Nov 11, 07 | 11:57 pm

- Don't know if I made myself clear - I do agree with E@L in that the comments on youtube were absolutely out of proportion with the disrespectful UK larrikins' behaviour.

It was quite scary to observe people expressing such extremest violent, sadistic, vengeful, racist, ugly threats against the young guys - like a lynch mob mentality, thirsting for bloodl!

And E@L has obviously been misunderstood, as he was commenting on the comments to the video - and he has been proven right, as that same over-reactive hateful 'rage' is now being directed on to him.

I know E@L very well - one thing he is NOT is a "coward" (how dare you!), nor is he sad (he has a happy life and more genuine friends than anyone I know), and unlike a couple of commenters, he is anything BUT racist. And he wouldn't hurt a fly! Yes he cares about Darfur and the suffering and cruelty being inflicted on the people - because he's an extremely compassionate and caring man with a strong sense of justice. He has a heart of gold basically, not one full of bitterness or hatred like some!!

Posted by: Sister on Nov 12, 07 | 7:42 pm


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