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Small Is Smashing

Your Local Economic Rice Stall Gives You Something Tastier, Cheaper and Dare I say More Nutritious compared to the Big International Fast-Food Joints.

I make no secret of the fact that I can’t stand offices. One of the best things that the circuit breaker did for me was to get me away from an office and the nonsensical power games that impotent bureaucrats need to get sexually aroused. In this day and age, I don’t see why people cannot work where they choose to work provided there is a decent enough internet connection. The only thing of value to come out of an office, from file or in a meeting is an agreement to fill more files and have more meetings.

However, while I take personal delight in the demise of the office, I need to remember that lock downs do hurt businesses like retailers and food outlets. These institutions provide many of us with a livelihood and more often than not, it affects those who are less well off.

As such, its heartening to see post on social media encouraging people to support small outlets and small businesses. One of the more encouraging ones came from my former agency junior who has since become an entrepreneur and a voice for the less fortunate.

While I don’t have anything personal against fast food chains, its really encouraging to see people talk about the need to support small enterprises. Having been a freelancer for the better part of my working life, I can attest to the fact that despite what the government tells you, life as an entrepreneur in Singapore is hard. Lee Kuan Yew’s most successful and unforgivable acts was to find a way of imprinting into our DNA an aversion to small, local risk takers. His message was simple, Singapore is simply too small to create economies of scale and so its best that we just do what we need to do to keep multinationals and the government happy.

While encouraging multinational investment did play a role in creating prosperity, the consistent message that Singapore is too small has ended up creating a dependency mentality. In the minds of many Singaporeans, you can’t do anything of quality unless you’ve been in the civil service or been “taught” by someone from elsewhere. I look back to the last year I did anything that I was really proud off – namely 2013 when I served the Indian Institutes of Management Alumni (IIM). This was a group that had the money to hire the likes of Hill & Knowlton but chose to go with me, a little nobody. After working for the IIM Alumni, I was invited to pitch for a job for a quasi-government agency. Before I even started on the presentation, the chairman started with “Don’t you see being a one-man show as a weakness.” The mentality of this very prominent sometime civil servant was very clear and the message to me was “You’re a nobody – shouldn’t you feel ashamed of not being part of a Western multinational?”

One of the key reasons why I’ve never bought into the “foreigners are stealing our jobs,” mode is simple. When I, a small nobody Singaporean with a proven track record of being able to do the job, it was the people from elsewhere who gave me the jobs. My “own kind” preferred to give the jobs to foreign companies. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one-man show who had that experience. A few of my friends who started their own shop admitted that their first big break was inevitably from someone from elsewhere.

So, with this background in mind, I’m really happy to see Singaporeans trying to encourage each other to support small mom and pop shops in this pandemic. The point is simple, McDonald’s and KFC can weather the storm. The small food stalls need customers.

While I’m encouraged to see people giving “moral” support to our local businesses, I believe that our support should not be based on a charitable desire but on the fact that our small businesses have the capability to deliver more value for their customers than their larger competitors from elsewhere. This fact was brought home recently when I had a look at where I was choosing to eat.

As a matte of full disclosure, I enjoy “fast-food.” There’s pleasure in KFC, McDonald’s and the rest of them. I also appreciate the business model that the fast-food outlets provide. As is often said, “Nobody can produce hamburgers at the same scale and consistency anywhere in the world in the same way that McDonald’s does.” You also have to appreciate the HR systems of the fast-food joints and how they train people.

My local food joint offers variety that you don’t get in a fast-food joint.

However, I’ve found myself spending less time in fast-food restaurants because, well, I’ve found that the hawker stalls, particularly the “economic rice” stalls offer something that has more variety, tastier, cheaper and dare I say more nutritious than what the Fast-Food joints are offering.

Ever since I’ve become more home based, my meals have become fairly standard. I walk out to the economic rice stall and my standard fare is rice, two vegetables and a meat (usually chicken or pork.) They’re fairly generous with the portions and the most that I’ve ever spent is six dollars (that was when I had a fish). I spend on average three to four dollars per packet. If I want a canned drink, I can either go into the nearby supermarket or visit the drink stall and pay a further two bucks (average price is around a dollar seventy).

While I do enjoy my fast-food, the economics of fast-food don’t make sense. KFC for example will charge three dollars and eighty cents $3.80) for a single piece of chicken: [LINK]

Not to be outdone, McDonald’s sells a buttermilk crispy chicken at eight-dollars and forty cents ($8.40). That’s just a bit of chicken, a bun and a few bits of relish. If you go for the meal, the price goes up by another dollar for fries (a few wedges of potato) and a soft drink (sugar water).

While both KFC and McDonald’s do offer something enjoyable, I don’t think they’re offering the best value to most consumers. From my perspective as a consumer, the local economic rice stall simply offers much better value. Again, I’m not against burgers or fried chicken but why should I pay so much more for that when the local guy can give me something better.

Likewise, multinationals and big brands do offer good things that we can spend our money on. However, the question remains – are they offering the best deal. Who is to say that our local SMEs are not offering something that may have more value?

This skinny guy lived in a diet of rice, vegetables and a bit of meat when he had the chance. He ended up leading people in combat against three big powers and won.

This guy lives on a diet of fast-food. End result – overweight, scrambling for money despite proclaiming billions and based on his accusations of other people being rapist – he’s probably impotent too.

 

Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

25 Responses to “Small Is Smashing”

  • Eat, Shit, Politics & Write:

    Dementia prone Biden is “loosing control” at the extensive Mexican border… Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are being let loose onto unwitting American communities and being naturalized …. so that the leftist “Democrats” can shore up their vote bank the next sleazy time around….. Criminals and human trafficking on an unprecedented scale in American history….

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Dear Tang Li,
    You said “I’m really happy to see Singaporeans trying to encourage each other to support small mom and pop shops in this pandemic. ”
    =============================================================================

    If more Singaporeans support small mom and pop shops, then MacDonald earning will be down and there will be massive retrenchment of the staff and store closure.

    Do you want to see MacDonald staff being retrenched ?

    Your small mom and pop shops want more money, MacDonald also wants more money.

    So, what is wrong with collecting more money ?

    Anyway, your suggestion will not work because Singaporeans are Ang Mo Tus Kee and MacDonald earning will only continue to shoot up the sky.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$

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  • xoxo:

    Chye poon vs han bao bao!
    It is like asians vs ang moh tua kee.

    Needless to say,chye poon is better.

    But some ELITIST$ PREFER XO CHYE TOW KUEH OR MERE SIAM MAI HUM???

    ONLY PLACE IN SG YOU CAN GET MEE SIAM MAI HIM IS AT ISTANA FOOD COURT?

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  • Payback for PAP at next GE:

    Straits Times:Hyflux’s liquidation a sad day for corporate Singapore

    Hyflux went bust for two reasons. First, its board of directors were all “yes-men” causing a failure of corporate governance. The second reason are the actions taken by the PAP-run government that made worse the overcapacity in power generation in Singapore. This led to a sharp fall in electricity prices causing Hyflux power plant to lose money. With mounting losses and high level of debt Hyflux became insolvent.

    Banks lost $930m but this is not a problem because such losses are tax deductible. The worst loss was suffered by the 64,000 retail investors who invested in Hyflux securities. PUB got a water treatment plant for free. Without a doubt, the PAP-run government screwed these investors.

    The “best thing” that will come out if this saga is the 64,000 more votes against the PAP at the next GE. This might be enough to flip one or more GRCs and caused support for the PAP to drop 10+% more to below 50%. This will be the beginning if the end for the arrogant, ruthless, greedy, always self-serving and pro-alien PAP. PAP can then be buried with Lee Con You, “Mr GDP” (Good Dead Permanently).

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  • Tang Li:
    I make no secret of the fact that I can’t stand offices. One of the best things that the circuit breaker did for me was to get me away from an office and the nonsensical power games…..

    I often wondered how Ho Chi Min could be running a country at war while spending so much time out of town at peace conferences, hither and yon.
    The answer, of course, is that he was not running North Vietnam or the war. Meanwhile, LBJ, was noted for combing over targets and assessments of air attacks.

    Now you know why the author idolized HCM? lol

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  • @ Payback for PAP at next GE:

    Sounds like u are one of the 64000 ?

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  • Songbong Rude Toad:

    Hear Hear Hear Hear Hear Hear Hear.

    Locals don’t give locals chance, foreigners do.

    Local companies preferred to give jobs to foreigners.

    Like this woman who runs ad agency. She said her clients are very rude and disrespectful to her. Just because they are paying her.

    Many local companies big or smaall are very competitive and grudging with fellow Singaporeans. They have no respect for people, no manners, always trying to squeeze employees to take lower wages. Squeeze them to do overtime. Like only they can profit, others don’t need to earn. They close shop, I say velly gooot! Serves them right!

    Many local bosses are SADISTS. They enjoy making people suffer, making other people’s lives miseraable. Employees often have to work in toxic environments under duress from Machiavellian bosses.

    That’s why job hopping is so rampant. Who gives a fart about loyalty, team player and all that rhetoric?

    My “own kind” preferred to give the jobs to foreign companies. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one-man show who had that experience. A few of my friends who started their own shop admitted that their first big break was inevitably from someone from elsewhere.

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  • Sporeans Taken For A Ride:

    Singaporeans ang mo tua kee because ang mos more willing to give them chance. Like the author mentioned, his friends got their breaks from foreigners.

    Local bosses, even if they give chance, they do it grudgingly. Always behave as if the empployee owe them big time. They like to tekan people, make the suffer for a pittance of a wage. Like army style. Ang mos will talk to you like a team member, fellow humnan. Locals will bark at you, talk down to you.

    Local bosses act as if you shouldn’t be there or you don’t deserve what you get. Very bad attitude. That’s why people job hop.

    Singaporeans R Free Riders:
    Dear Tang Li,
    You said “I’m really happy to see Singaporeans trying to encourage each other to support small mom and pop shops in this pandemic. ”
    =============================================================================

    If more Singaporeans support small mom and pop shops, then MacDonald earning will be down and there will be massive retrenchment of the staff and store closure.

    Do you want to see MacDonald staff being retrenched ?

    Your small mom and pop shops want more money, MacDonald also wants more money.

    So, what is wrong with collecting more money ?

    Anyway, your suggestion will not work because Singaporeans are Ang Mo Tus Kee and MacDonald earning will only continue to shoot up the sky.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$

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  • John Richards:

    Another pathetic attempt at a dig on Trump. You are like the mainstream media in the US. Without Trump, you have nothing to write about. So what is your conclusion? That people who eat rice and vegetables make better leaders than people who eat meat? I wonder what Xi Jinping eats.

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  • support local lah:

    Now is the time to support local business…make sure they survive this crisis of a lifetime or they will close one by one.
    Many of our people can’t afford expensive meals…especially the seniors with little savings.Sad situation.
    Our social net support is really poor …Comcare need to do more for the lower sector of our society.

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  • support the poor lah:

    Comcare need to step up the support for the poor and needy badly affected by the Lockdown/restriction.Be more active and make it easy for the recipient.
    Give subsistence support asap to help them survive this Covid crisis.

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  • How does LKY cult compare?:

    The cults of personality of communist leaders have been an important part of forming and maintaining socialist regimes. To ensure loyalty to the Party, to the government, and to the revolutionary cause that they promulgated, communist leaders inculcated a spirit of obedience to state authority by instituting a process of indoctrination and socialization that started among children from a very young age and that nurtured a worldview that would continue throughout their lives to perpetuate the legacy of the Party.

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  • xoxo:

    Now,ang moh Australia wants to kwai lan with China after eating A LOT of *chinese chye poon* for PAST 2 DECADE$?

    JAPAN ALWAYS *JING-GANG* WITH ANG MOHS TO BULLY CHINA,since Qing Dynasty,ya?

    China needs another WONG FEI HONG!
    XJP must display his chinese KUNGFU PANDA martial art now!

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  • xoxo:

    On records,Japan was an AGGRESSOR to China and SE ASIA BUT NOT CHINA?

    ANG MOHS TOO CREATED OPIUM HAVOC?
    NOW,WHO ACTUALLY CREATE COVID HAVOC?

    DR FAUZI LOOKS MORE LIKE A CROOK THAN A MAN OF NOBLE PROFESSION to me,look at his eyes!

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  • xoxo:

    A few years ago only,Japan tried to pally with China after seeing Australia did the same.
    Now,Big Bro USA steps in to *discippline*(?) ,Japan and arch-nemesis,India also,want to stir as well?

    I tell you when the wind blow over,you will see Japan coming to CHINA with a BOW N A GRIN?

    JAPAN ,to me,is akin tova hyena,waiting to feast on the sideline?

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  • xoxo:

    Lets say,if California wants to break away from USA ,and,China intervene to show support,will USA keep quiet ?

    NOT that i support China’s determined control over HK but it is really Internal Affairs ultimately to be settled between HK people and Central Govt.
    But i would say CHINA shud consider to leave TAIWAN alone as it is different from HK.

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  • xoxo:

    To be fair,CHINA MAY BE TRYING TO EXERT INFLUENCE BUT ISNT USA DOING THE SAME?
    ANG MOH TUA KEE SAYS THEIE *RAPE* IS CONSENSUAL BUT IF OTHERS DO LIKEWISE,IT IS NON-CONSENSUAL N MUST BE PUNISHED?

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  • xoxo:

    As recent as 35 years ago or less,mighty USA’s companies went to China to *make use* of CHEAP peasant-labourers and now not happy that these peasants are now their major competitor$$$

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    Small is smashing ?!?!?

    Individual preference. But examples quoted are lousy.

    How come Minister J Teo said no need big place to have sex, many here kpkb ?

    How come soccer cannot win ? U mean The winners eat economic mixed rice ? Maybe Sushi or Kimchi since Japs and SK make it.

    How come world strongest man always an ang mo e.g. russian or icelander or….

    How intermittent fasting good for personal health everybody dont participate except certain groups or festival ?

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  • xoxo:

    Look at G7?
    ALL ANG MOH$ EXCEPT JAPAN?
    YES,granted Japan was 2nd or Third largest world economy but is now way behind China???

    In due course,i expect RMB to be demanded as a RESERVE CURRENCY,sooner than most ang mohs like it .

    I am no commie fam but neither am i crazy about ANG MOH value system.

    Ang mohs begrudge COMMIE-China as *GODLESS* but ANG MOHS ,less and less,worship GOD than they worship *KING $*???
    So,WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE as both are *GODLESS*?

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  • xoxo:

    To my very simplistic mind,A CHINA BIG BRO IN NORTH AND SE ASIA is good as China is our CLOSE NEIGHBOUR whereas USA is more *nrotherly* to other ang mohs,like it or not.

    Sg shud be frens (if possible BFF) with GIANT PANDA.
    In fact ,whole of SE Asia shud be frens with China even if they *make fren* with USA.

    CHINA MUST REMEMBER ALL ARE FRENS,first and foremost .

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  • PRC Zealots:

    @ CHINA MUST REMEMBER ALL ARE FRENS,first and foremost .

    After they backstab us in Suzhou , then again Terrex.

    Or they complaint people cook curry. Should we complain their Ma la
    Hot pot.

    Better be caution.

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  • Tang Li:

    Some very interesting comments.

    @John Richard – I never said that people who eat rice and vegetables are better leaders who eat meat and I think that its rather nice of you to call the contents of what your champion of male virility likes to munch on as being “Meat.”

    However, while I have no hard statistics, the look at the Covid tables might suggest that the conclusion you ascribed to me as being correct. American leadership was so good under Trump that the USA spent more time trying to argue that Covid was fake and arguing against the obvious fact that mask mandates and social distancing kept people alive. The fact that the USA still remains ahead of India and Brazil (two places which the Trump has described as “S**holes) in number of deaths and infections should tell you something about the state of American leadership under someone who adored “junk food.” In the mean time, we, the inhabitants of s***hole countries in the third world of Asia actually put on mask and practiced social distancing and kept our figures low. – Don’t know how we kept our figures relatively low without the resources (and boy doesn’t America have the best of everything) that you have. Didn’t have to wait for a vaccine to get things under control. – Why is that? Could it be the fact that we little Yellow and Brown people don’t stuff ourselves with junk food and the fact that our adults go to work and pay taxes and send our kids to school instead of blaming poor people for doing work?

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Tang Li:
    … In the mean time, we, the inhabitants of s***hole countries in the third world of Asia actually put on mask and practiced social distancing and kept our figures low. – Don’t know how we kept our figures relatively low without the resources (and boy doesn’t America have the best of everything) that you have.

    Dear Tang Li,
    This is reply from AMTK pro democracy Singaporeans/Hongkees:

    “Americunts = Democracy = freedom”
    Freedom = do whatever you wish even it defy logics.
    You brown/yellow skin had no democracy and are forced to put on mask and keep social distance..

    Put on mask and keep social distance = no democracy

    Yours Sincerely,
    AMTK pro democracy Singaporeans/Hongkees

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    PRC Zealots:
    @ CHINA MUST REMEMBER ALL ARE FRENS,first and foremost .

    After they backstab us in Suzhou , then again Terrex.

    Or they complaint people cook curry. Should we complain their Ma la
    Hot pot.

    Better be caution.

    Never Never Never Never Never trust China.
    The Chinese will backstab you for their own gains.

    If China (PRc/ROc)can be trusted, pigs can fly.

    金球獎最佳女導演趙婷: 中國是充滿謊言的國家 (China is full of lies/shit)
    https://www.thenewslens.com/article/148107

    PRc习近平的博士学位 (Communist X’s fake PhD degree)
    https://twitter.com/john17churchill/status/1084965375924756481

    Roc 蔡英文的博士学位 (Democratic Tsai’s fake PhD degree)
    https://www.yzzk.com/article/details/%E4%B8%AD%E8%8F%AF%E5%A4%A9%E5%9C%B0%2F2019-39%2F1569470590686%2F%E8%94%A1%E8%8B%B1%E6%96%87%E5%8D%9A%E5%A3%AB%E8%AB%96%E6%96%87%E6%8E%80%E7%88%AD%E8%AD%B0

    ROc賀德芬:蔡英文論文是騙局!檢察官不必對我仁慈
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj57c9m2pKo

    To the Real Commie ccP and Fake Democratic but is real Commie Taiwan, it is all about money.

    MONEY TALK BULLSHIT WALK…You trust PRc/ROc you die faster.

    The same for Americunts. You trust Americunts you die faster. In God We Trust, Really ?

    To the Americunts, you should change to In Money We Trust.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat

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