Recently, a photograph showing a staff of a famous Singapore confectionary chain filling up plastic bottles with soya milk from another company went viral. Netizens were incensed because this publicly-listed confectionary BreadTalk had been selling soya bean milk for years, billing it as “freshly-prepared”. The company quickly pulled its product from its shelves and issued an apology that baffled more than it explained.
“We've heard your concerns over our soya bean beverage sold in stores … We would like to apologise for any misaligned presentation or wrong impressions created, and clarify that it is never our intention to mislead,” according to its press release.
I was gobsmacked. Here was a company that not only was using language hideously to get out of a tight spot, it had for years instructed its employees to deceive. And why did it take so long for this to emerge? Why wasn’t there any whistleblower? Surely this act cannot be perceived as honest any way you cut it. How deep can culture and structure seep to blind and completely disempower a person and rob him of his inherent agency?