ice cream and ethics

What does your ice cream cost? No, I don’t mean money, I mean ethics.

I have been following Esme the Guide Dog on Facebook, as I am passionate about the positive roles that animals, especially dogs, play in the support of disabilities, physical, emotional and mental. This incident happened in Singapore, at the Haagen Dazs outlet in Holland Village, a locality that prides itself for being international and cosmopolitan. I am disappointed to say that this is not true, from my own experience and this latest post by Esme the Guide Dog has driven home the point that Singapore has a long way to go before we can claim first-world status!

I come from Singapore, I love many things about my country, but I am ashamed and appalled by the lack of rights for the disabled, and the glaringly non-first world attitudes of the society. This has much to do with dismal education on disabilities, which in turn further propagates the already deeply entrenched parochial fear of the stigma of disabilities of any kind. And of course, lack of interest on the part of the authorities to rectify this with any firm and decisive action.

I seldom like to appeal to my friends to sign petitions etc, because it is such a personal thing. But I was so disgusted and moved by the recent post by Cassandra, posting as Esme the Guide Dog, about the mistreatment tantamount to abuse the pair suffered at the Holland Village branch of the international ice cream chain Haagen Dazs. I used to be a fan of Haagen Dazs ice cream, but now I am going to withhold my patronage until the company in Singapore makes a firm stand for or against disability rights. They are very quiet at the moment, either busy trying to figure out a way to wriggle out of this very ridiculous but shockingly indecent expression of heartlessness and utter disregard for the disabled, or just not even interested at all because they may feel there are many others who will still eat without conscience.

To those readers who do care about the rights of the disabled and agree with the many good things that animals are doing for those with disabilities of any sort, please take a moment to voice your opinion on the Haagen Dazs Singapore Facebook page.

As of the time of writing this postscript, Haagen Dazs Singapore has issued a tiny little offhand apology in an inconspicuous response within one of their posts, buried amongst a myriad of protests from the angry public. I looked for it myself and I had to run through all the comments with a fine tooth comb to find Haagen Dazs Singapore’s halfhearted cowardly ‘apology’ – what a farce. And the saga continues. I am watching this thing closely. For a summary, click here.

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Update:

A very good apology without excuses from Regional Office, Haagen Dazs. I am heartened that one of my favourite brands of ice cream has lived up to their international reputation. I am just saddened that a) the Singapore office offered such a lame, defensive and disrespectful ‘apology’ comment inserted cowardly into the midst of a barrage of protests under a post in their Haagen Dazs Facebook page, and b) it had to take the Regional Office to issue a formal, well-worded apology instead. Singapore – we have a lot more “Majullah” to go as a decent society.  Nevertheless, I am grateful to Cassandra and Esme for being willing to stand out and break the terribly rocky and unwieldy ground for us all in Singapore! Way to go, Esme the Guide Dog! For details, please check in at Esme the Guide Dog Facebook Page! And please Like the page if you wish to support this groundbreaking duo in their efforts towards better disability rights in Singapore! (I do not know Cassandra personally, I am just a fan and supporter, with the same dream of seeing inclusivity and a more gracious, educated society develop in Singapore.)

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