The Waffle Incident: Racism, Special Treatment Or Something Else?

With all the recent high profile incidents regarding racism (Beow Tan, Tan Boon Lee, Siti Ai’sha), it stands to reason that Singaporean Netizens will start to feel burnt out. Each incident is emotionally charged, drawing people in with their sensationalism.

After so many cases in so short a frame of time…you’re just sick of it all. Emotionally drained.

That might actually be happening in this case.

A Facebook user by the name of Izah Ramizah Fahrin, claimed that she had a racist incident while attempting to buy a waffle from Prima Deli. The Facebook post has since been deleted or made private so there’s no way of seeing it now but here’s the gist of it.

In the post, Izah claimed she was told that the waffles were sold out by the staff. Same thing happened to another Malay woman who inquired about them after her. However, while she was still in the bakery looking for something else to buy, a Chinese man stepped up and ordered a waffle in Mandarin without issue.

Izah claims she’s fluent in Mandarin and thus understood everything that was said.

When Izah confronted the staff, she claimed that one of them stated there was only a single waffle left in a high pitched voice, while the other just stared at her.

When Netizens heard about this, many felt that Izah was making a mountain out of a molehill.

A lot of those who commented say that it’s a minor issue and that it’s not racism at all. Rather it’s bias or preferential treatment, with one customer getting better service than the other.

In other words, it’s just plain bad customer service.

While not a ton, there are also defenders who jumped to Izah’s aid, claiming that the incident, while minor, is still a sign of racism and shouldn’t be tolerated.

Izah’s supporters claim that many who dismiss her claim of racism are those who view the waffle as a small matter. A couple also state that it’s easy to dismiss other people’s accounts if they’ve not been on the receiving end, as minorities often are.

To counter Izah’s claim, some Netizens pointed out if this is considered racism, then them being overcharged for Nasi Padang for not being Malay should be considered racism as well.

Personally, as a Singaporean, I’ve always been getting fluctuating prices when buying Nasi Padang.

Even as a Malay (I look Chinese though), I’ve gotten varying prices for it despite ordering pretty much the same things over and over. Sometimes I was charged $3.50, sometimes $4 for the same items by the same Malay lady over the course of a week.

One time I asked the lady why that’s so and was told she priced the dish according to the market rate of the ingredients and the quantity (or size) of the items on the dish. Sometimes the fish is bigger, or the vegetables might be a bit pricier than usual…that kind of thing.

A few also gave other examples…like this guy, whose mangling of the word ‘Nasi Lemak’ should be considered a hate crime.

How lazy do you have to be (in the age of Google), to not being able to spell Nasi Lemak?

LAKSI LEMARK?! Is that some fancy Indian-French dish or something? No wonder you get the crap picks bro, nobody knows what the hell you’re talking about.

One guy even got passed over in line for another customer…though it’s obvious he didn’t care about it one bit judging from his post.

I admit this might not always be the case though so whether the arguments that these examples can be construed as racism is valid or not, it does happen.

Others though, aren’t as quick to jump on one side or the other.

They’re the ones advocating a wait and see attitude. Since Izah’s notified Prima Deli, the company has gotten in touch with her, saying that they are investigating the incident.

Some Netizens are awaiting the findings from Prima Deli before they decry the incident as racism or chalk it up to as another example of bad customer service.

Either way, it sure as hell looks like a no win situation for Prima Deli.

If their investigations find out that their staff was racist, there’ll be hell to pay. If it turns out they were bad at their jobs, that’s a whole different kind of hell coming their way.

Looking at it this way, will Prima Deli have the integrity to tell the truth or will they try to cover it up? Time will tell.

Others questioned Izah’s claim that she understood Mandarin.

They claim that Izah might not be as fluent as she stated, which is understandable considering she is Malay. However, in a multiracial society like ours, that claim is rather flimsy.

Ask any non-Chinese and they’ll tell you the same thing; years of being around Chinese friends have taught them basic Mandarin. Just like Chinese people pick up basic Malay when hanging out with Malay friends.

While the matter of Izah’s fluency is still up for debate, one Netizen had a very plausible reason for the matter of the ‘sold out’ waffle.

It’s simply an innocent matter of the staff wanting the food for themselves. Hey, I can completely relate to that and it’s a pretty plausible reason too. No racism involved, just a hunger worker!

Whatever the reasons will be, hopefully Prima Deli will shed some light on it when they reveal their findings.

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