She Has Probably Eaten More Salt Than You Have Eaten Rice!

There is a Chinese saying ‘我吃盐多过你吃米’ which literally meant ‘I have eaten more salt than you have eaten rice’. In Asian culture, rice is the staple for most of our meals. To say that someone has eaten more salt than you have of rice, it shows that they have been around and gone through a great deal more than you have and we should respect their wealth of life experience. To Ms Siew Ling who has written an extremely hurtful letter to a committed senior staff nurse who has worked more than 30 years in the nursing industry, I want to say to her ‘年纪轻轻你算老几’.

Senior Nurses In Singapore - AspirantSG

Siew Ling’s Disgusting Antics

Ms Cindy Ong found her mother crying after coming back from work at the hospital. She was really upset with a letter she received from one of her patient. After reading the demeaning content of the letter, Cindy was horrified and understandably furious with Ms Siew Ling’s disgusting antics. That letter went straight up to the editor of Five Stars And A Moon who promptly shared it and the post went viral from there.

Letter To Senior Staff Nurse - AspirantSG

Cindy’s mother (aka Missy Ong), a senior staff nurse at a local hospital in Singapore has contributed to the nursing industry for more 30 years. She is committed and has pride in the work she does. Ms Siew Ling was a patient under her care. Within a week of her stay at the hospital, she had been verbally abusing Cindy’s mother, calling her “stupid”, “idiot” and “b*tch”. Of course, we understand that people who are ill may have their tempers but to go to the extent of spitting on Missy Ong when the hospital food was not to her liking was too much.

Ms Siew Ling did not stop at just that. Despite being sick, she managed to master sufficient energy and dedicated time to write a letter chiding Missy Ong on how slow she worked and even asked the 63 years old nurse to quit her job because she is ‘old’

Nursing is a tough and thankless job. Ms Siew Ling definitely did not make it any better.

Netizens Show Their Support

It is comforting to see Netizens sharing the social post and submit encouraging comments for Missy Ong.

Zhan Yi Lim said ‘Staff working in the healthcare industry often receives harsh verbal insults, especially from family members of patients who are not recovering well. In addition like Ms Siew Ling, many ignorant people tend to see nursing as a mediocre-skilled job.Nursing is in fact one of the toughest, highly skilled profession in Singapore. Physically and emotionally tiring. I hope that through this, fellow Singaporeans can be more respectful and pleasant towards our missy / sisters. They are truly the unsung angels of the healthcare profession.’

Jude Tan shared her personal experience ‘When my brother was at the end stages of his illness, the compassionate care shown to him by the nursing staff was exemplary. My brother really appreciated them and they even showed up for his wake. It takes special folk to put up with illness and death and in many a case even abuse from the sick, and would like to take this opportunity again to salute this group of heroes!’

Bryan Pan Zhixiongapplauded Missy Ong’s commitment ‘To Cindy’s Mum, never give up, although your age is catching up, there are still people who appreciate what you are doing… Look at the bright side, stay strong, and i would like to say I’m proud of you and i really have to applaud and praise you for who you are and what you had been doing.. Even at the age of 63, you are still working hard as a nurse, giving back to society. You are one of those, who deserve a lot of respect.’

Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?

The worrying part of this entire fiesco is that Siew Ling does not only behave in this manner when she is sick. Back at her workplace, there may be another mature worker suffering in silence from Siew Ling’s verbal insults and mental tortures… just to keep his or her job. Siew Ling is just a propagator of Ageism who has been exposed. There may be a substantial number of Siew Lings in Singapore’s workforce who will stop at nothing to destroy the rice bowls of our mature workers.

Ageism is the prejudice or discrimination on the basis of age, usually against older employees. Despite the promotion of age-friendly workplace policies by governments, ageism continues to affect older employees. A study commissioned by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices in Singapore found that job seekers who are above 40 years of age have a lower chance of job success if the interview panel is made up of younger people. Young co-workers are also frequently described as being less accommodative and most prone to undervalue older employees’ experience.

Are You Guilty Of Ageism?

In Singapore, our rapidly ageing workforce is bringing about a fundamental shift in Singapore’s employment landscape. With lesser younger employees entering the workforce, it would become increasingly important for companies to engage a more mature workforce and leverage on their experience and expertise.

Currently, the retirement age is 62 years old, with employees being eligible for re-employment from 62 to 65 years old. After lobbying by the NTUC to raise the re-employment age limit to 67 years old, the government will legislate a new law to do so by 2017.

However ageism will still occur. NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Heng Chee How points out that companies may retire workers earlier before 62 years old due to “reasons” like performance, or offer unreasonably poor re-employment contracts when they turn 62.

Help Reduce Ageism In Singapore

There is still much that can be done by employers, government and fellow colleagues like us to reduce ageism.

Heng Chee How Facebook Post On Raising Re-Employment Age - AspirantSG

Ageism can seep into our daily lives without us noticing its presence. Here are some questions to keep yourself in check:

– As an employer, do you give our local mature workers an equal fighting chance to secure the job or give them opportunity to take on greater responsibilities at work?

– As an employee, have you ever expressed your appreciation to senior colleagues at work who are always more than willing to guide you in learning the ropes at your workplaces?

– As a customer, do you bother to say “Thank You” to mature service staffs who have attended to you at the hawker centre, shopping mall, gym or spa? 

Our mature workers deserve recognition for their continuing efforts and contributions. Don’t become a Siew Ling.

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