'Kindness cafe' sends wrong message

SINGAPORE - We should not create the notion that one can only enjoy discounts or freebies by being friendly, kind and polite ("Say please and thanks for discount"; Tuesday).

I am supportive of the various initiatives of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) in encouraging Singaporeans to make a positive commitment to gracious living through simple acts of kindness.

Events such as the I Love My Mum campaign, Heroes Run and photo contest organised by the SKM are commendable as they have impacted and reminded us of the importance of being filial, courteous and kind.

However, the movement's pop-up cafe where customers are given a discount on a cup of coffee or a free loaf of bread by saying "please" and "thank you" is not the appropriate way to further inspire graciousness and friendliness, which should come from the heart. It is, hence, imperative that we drive home the message to everyone, especially the impressionable young, that we can gain satisfaction as friendly and pleasant customers without any tangible benefits being dangled in front of us.

It is all right to accept a discount or a free gift when one is courteous and considerate to service providers, especially when one does not expect it in the first place.

We are becoming a more tolerant and helpful society, and given the time and opportunity, Singaporeans can spontaneously react to any situation with graciousness and concern, without needing any carrots.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

This article was first published on June 13, 2014.
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