Tuesday, October 25, 2016

To be Right or to Win

To be right is a desire to get the correct facts. To win is a desire to be on top of others. These are two different things. However, people tends to confuse between the two.

A person who desires to be right is one that seeks the fact and dispels wrongs and myths. It is very different from self-righteousness which is an attitude that one thinks that he/she is the only one that is right.

A very good example of "to be right" is  "the earth is round" belief. In early days most people beliefs that the earth is flat and if one ventures beyond the edge, the person will fall over. A person who suggests that the earth is round is unthinkable. He will be considered mad or is branded "idiot". Pythagoras is the first Greek who suggests spherical earth. Magellan sailed round the earth to prove it. Space travel has already debunk the myth yet there are still groups who insists that the earth is flat (Flat Earth Society).

Why does Magellan waste so many years trying to prove the earth is round? Has he nothing better to do? He probably have the "wanting to prove what is right" attitude.

There is nothing wrong to want "to be right". Humanity progresses because of these people. They have a theory and they proves that they are right.

Mao ZeTong started the cultural revolution (文化大革命). Thousands if not millions were tortured and died because of his desire to keep himself at the top. Is cultural revolution the right thing to do? At that time the people simply idolize him and did not try to see for themselves whether it is right or wrong.

The above example is a typical "to win" attitude. A person who desires to win will do anything to win including wrongs and lies. They have no regard for others. They will do anything and everything to put down others and keep themselves at the top. Unfortunately, this is human nature. It is the survival of the fittest attitude. It does not matter what damages were made as long as they win.

Throughout history, this "to win" attitude caused untold misery to others especially by those who is in power. They are afraid of those "to do right" people so they suppress everyone and mercilessly purged them into submission.

These "to win" people will aim for the top. They back stab, they spread lies, they suppress truth, they kill just to climb to the top. These people are everywhere.

Would you rather be one that "aims to be right" and accept your mistake when you are proven wrong or simply insists that you are right and try to argue your way out just to win?

My motto is "If you insists that you are right, you stopped reasoning".

Monday, October 24, 2016

Typical Response of SMRT

The first time I entered this particular bus service 963, it smells of strong petroleum odor. I thought maybe it is a faulty one thus did not feedback.

On 29 Sept boarded a 963 SG5780L and it has the same smell. So I feedback to SMRT about it and it replied

"With the information you have provided, I have highlighted your feedback internally for necessary checks and action. At the same time, I have also informed our Maintenance Department to step up on the cleaning regime on our buses."

On 6th Oct boarded the same bus SG5780L the fume was choking. Feed back to SMRT again and the reply is

"Please allow me to share that during our inspection on 3 October 2016, the bus was free from petrol smell. Nevertheless, we will continue to remind our staff to ensure this bus is cleaned on daily basis to remove unwanted smell during journey."

On 10th Oct boarded the same bus SG5780L again. This time the fume is still strong but not as bad. Immediately feedback but probably forgot to tick "need a reply". There is no reply.

Today 24th Oct. Boarded the same bus the fifth time. It still smells. Had to drop off at Bukit Batok because it really gives me eye sore and headache.

Do I feedback again. No. I never feedback beyond the third round. Why waste time? I feedback directly to LTA.

Now if LTA also behaves the same way as SMRT then perhaps I should go to Public Forum and vent my frustration.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Example of Facebook Spam explained

"Bye bye, I deleted some so called friends over time, due to their way of doing things. Now I'm watching the one who will have the time to read this post until the end. This is a little test, just to see who reads and who shares without reading! If you have read everything, select "like" and then copy and paste this text on your profile, so i can put a thank u on ur profile,I know that 97% of you won't broadcast this, but my friends will be the 3% that do. In honor of someone who died, or is fighting cancer, or even had cancer, copy and paste. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.💕"

On and off you see spams like the above being posted on FB. A friend of my friend posted the above and I felt strongly that I should respond. That message was deleted later. But when I search FB for the first four words of the message, there are plenty of people ignorantly posted it in their profile the exact same message as above.

What make such spams work? It started with "I deleted some so called friends". It then followed by "I am watching the one..." then "my friends will be the 3% that do". It is a typical threat built on fear. The message threatened the 97% who are not "friends'.because they don't. 3% of them naturally just do it with out thinking which is contrary to the message.

Most friends will then be obliged to "do". It has nothing to do whether they "read" or not. The instruction is "Like" then "copy and paste." 

The message ended with "in honor of ... Cancer Awareness Month". in between "copy and paste" appears again. Just ask yourself. Do you threaten to remove your friends to promote Cancer Awareness?

By "copy and paste", it promotes the same idea to others thus forming a sort of chain mail scam. Look carefully, what is the instruction for "copy and paste". The first mention says "this text". The second mention simply says "copy and paste". Again the "reading" is meaningless as it does not specifically mention which sentence is important and should be "copied and paste". It end up people just copy the whole thing thereby continuing the chain mail spam. The Cancer Awareness Month is a real event but is used to validate the spam.

There are plenty of FB spams and plenty of ignorant people who just follow even though the message is as confusing as the above. 

It is ironic that  the message actually says "who read and who shares without reading'.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Travelling with a handicapped person

Travelling with a visual handicapped person could be quite an experience. Besides the visual assistance, there are a lot of areas where we take it for granted. Obviously, you will see other inexperienced people fumbles and fail in their effort to assist the handicapped. There are a lot of ways where people can fail in their efforts to help the handicapped. Here is one example of an industry that provides assistance service to facilitate travel for the handicapped and failed from time to time.

I used to travel with visual handicapped (VH). If it is one to one assistance, usually there will be no problem. However, if there are more than one VH with me, it will be a bit difficult to handle especially in a crowded area or space constrained area. In this case we usually ask for assistance from the transport provider if there is a service provided to assist.

Airlines usually provide such assistance to handicapped except budget airlines. Some budget airlines can provide the service with additional charges.

Through the years, there have been malfunctions in the service provided. For example they failed to provide their elbows to let the VH hold it. They can also forget that verbally telling VH to follow them is a big mistake.

Avoiding travelator and stairs is a bit controversial. It could be the service provider's concern that VH may be put in danger if they use the facility. It is still fine with VH in general.

Cathay Pacific goes a step further. They have a set of questionnaire to check with the handicapped. Unfortunately, they dump all the questions for handicaps into one single set. One of the funny question is "are you able to feed yourself?" For a quadriplegic, this question is absolutely necessary but for VH, it is kind of stupid. Obviously, if the VH is standing there and holding a cane, there will be no doubt that he/she could feed himself/herself. Cathay Pacific already stated in its web site the following statement.

"We are unable to provide passengers with any assistance for personal care needs inflight such as eating/drinking, administration of medications, elimination functions including assistance inside the lavatory, or other personal care needs. If you require assistance with any of these, we recommend that you travel with a personal care attendant or make alternative arrangements."

It is therefore quite puzzling why they need the questionnaire. They should remind passenger about their stated inability instead.

One other mundane practice is asking a VH if he/she needs a wheelchair when the VH is obviously standing there at the check in counter asking for assistance. How do they get to the check in counter in the first place?

Another funny thing airlines does is to issue a badge to indicate that the handicap is one who need assistance. Is it necessary at all since they already provide "meet and assist" service and the assistance already know who is the one that needs assistance. It is like Nazi tagging Jews.

From here on, I will mention one specific airline's practice specifically towards a recent trip I had with VH on Cathay flights. Below are some screen captures from Cathay Pacific web site.

The Introduction. Generally, this applies to all handicaps and people with special requirements. The disclaimer stated previously appears in all pages.

This page catered to the VH specifically. Notice that there is nothing mentioned about food or the preparation of it? Wheelchair is also not in the list.

This page is a bit peculiar. I will be mentioning about it below.

The trip we took is a flight with return tickets. The issue started with the flight from SGP to HKG. We checked in and asked for assistance. There is no issue right up to getting the VH seated. It is pretty strange that the check in counter staff put one VH on window seat and me and the other VH on the center seat. The plane is 3/4 empty. Why is it that we are seated separated by one seat and a walkway as a group not to mention that two of them are VH who needs me to help them from time to time? 

While waiting to depart, a ground staff came in and requested one of the VH to disembark and wait for the next available flight. The reason is that "Cathay Pacific regulation requires that a visual handicapped be attended to at all times and in case of emergencies."  They are currently not able to provide such service on this flight so the passenger has to be put on another flight.

Now I ask you to look at the three screen capture or go to the Cathay Website and search for this regulation. (https://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_HK/travel-information/special-assistance/disability-assistance/introduction.html). Which statement applies to a VH? The closest applicable statement is "Passenger needing Escorts" and the following excerpts from Mobility Assistance.

"In most cases, passengers with disabilities may travel on their own.  However, it is a requirement that you travel with a safety assistant if you are unable to physically assist in your own evacuation from the aircraft in event of an emergency."

Are Visual Handicapped not able to "assist in your own evacuation"? Some may be. But for this particular case, the VH have been able to move fine by himself. With a bit of instruction to guide them to move in which direction before hand, he should be able to get to the door and evacuate by himself. Therefore, the first statement cannot appliy. The conditions in "Passengers needing escorts" cannot apply as none of the conditions fits the description of the VH.

Is the airline overreacting? It is an insult by suggesting that able bodied VH cannot evacuate by themselves. How else could they live in this world? Every place they go there are possible emergencies including their own house.

The VH insist that he should not be removed and the ground staff let him be. Now that is another irregularity. Since you have already determined that the VH cannot evacuate by himself then how could you have relented and let him travel. The regulation can be bent?

Another issue is that why let the VH board the plane and then ask him to disembark again? Should it not be done at the check in? Of course, the airline can say that it is an oversight by the ground staff. That points to the "introduction" page - "our employees are trained to assist our passengers". Trained and oversight is a very different thing. How often does a passenger request assistance? It is practically everyday business. How could they missed the necessary checks? In actual fact they have to ask the questionnaire when we are entering the holding area. Should not this be done at the check in counter again rather than inconveniencing the VH on the way?

On the return trip. There is yet another set of problems. Upon checking in, the staff ask us to wait at that corner (pointing to AHD) and wrote the time and location of the place. In all my travel with VH, the usual practice is to just sit around the place and the assistance will come to us.

In this particular trip, no assistance came. So after 20 minutes after the appointed time, I go to AHD to find out. The first staff sitting at one counter simply points to the other staff. Now is that a good service?

Never mind, I moved to the "designated" queue to find out. The first thing the staff said is "why are we not at the AHD at the appointed time? I told her that it is usual for us to just wait around the place. The staff defiantly say that we should wait at the designated place behind the counter. Now that is a bit strange. There is no verbal or written instruction for us to find the specific AHD designated waiting area. How in the world would we know the working procedure?

I did see some assistance came to the sitting area around the AHD looking for the person they are supposed to assist. On my previous trips, the assistance did came to find us at the sitting place. Why in this case we are at fault by not turning up at the AHD counter on time?

After a few calls, they managed to get a ground staff to assist us to the plane. That staff simply waits for me to assist the two VH. She did nothing to provide assistance.

The staff walked so fast that she is a good 20-30 meters from us and only waits for us when there is a change of direction or use of lifts and train. Is that a "trained staff" to assist people who need assistance?

Upon reaching the plane, the air crew already busy with the other passengers. Supposedly, we are the last 3 to enter the plane. One air crew SHOWED us to our seat. They are trained to "assist"?  Under normal circumstances, an elderly pulling two person who tagged to him with a number of bags does not require help? In this instanced the ground assistance should have already informed the air crew that we asked for assistance.

On reaching the seat, I have to arrange for the VH to get to their seat and single-handedly put all the bags into the overhead compartment. The air crew just stood there and watch.

This is the type of "training" the employee of the airline have gone through?

Obviously, I lodge two complains to Cathay Pacific on their web site.

On 24th Oct 2016 after more than the 14 days auto reply stated period, The reply come as below

I am sorry that you were disappointed by your recent experience with us. I can understand why you feel this way and hope you will accept my apologies for the inconvenience caused.

I would like to inform you that in the event of an emergency, it is imperative that each visually impaired passenger has their own assistant to assist them as per our guidelines. I understand that you and your travelling companions had already settled in your seats for your flight to Hong Kong. Since you were assisting both of your travel companions, after we recieved a further confirmation from the concerned team, you were allowed to take the flight provided that both your companions could verbally communicate with you in case of an emergency. 

Having said that, I fully understand your point of view and regret any miscommunication that may have occured due to the handling by our ground staff at Singapore and Hong Kong. I can imagine how inconvenient and distressing the situation might have been on both occasions for you and your companions and I sincerely apologise for any poor impression that may have been created due to the handling by our cabin crew. 

My reply is as below

Your "Passengers needing escorts" page laid down four conditions where an assistance is needed. My question is does any of the condition fits the description of an able bodied blind person that can argue with your ground crew? 

The closest regulation is "have severe hearing and vision impairments and cannot establish some means of communication with our cabin crew."  However, is that applicable? If that is applicable then you are in trouble. How could I be assisting two handicapped person who cannot establish meaningful communication with me? How could I verbally assist the other visual handicapped in such condition? You allow such a person to travel without "his own assistance"?

In the first place it is your crew's mistake for not knowing your company's regulations well. In the second place your explanation is absolutely flawed against your own regulation.

From your "Passengers needing escorts" page I established that an assistance is needed when the passenger is not capable of evacuating by himself/herself. A visual impaired person may not be able to evacuate if he/she have other disabilities like unable to move by himself/herself or unable to understand instructions. 

You company fails totally by making such uncalled for requests. It is done at the wrong time and place by your ground crew taking your regulation out of context (concentrating only on "visual impaired"). You as customer relation also fails to adequately understanding the regulation and thus showing me your incapability of understanding a normal Visual Handicapped and your lack of understanding of your own regulations thereby providing such flawed answers.

Your reply cause me to more deeply hurt by trying to wrongly explaining the situation and by implying that a normal visual impaired person is not able to evacuate himself/herself with prior instructions. It amounts to an insult to a visual handicapped person. I also feel insulted because you think that I do not know your regulation when I do a feedback.

I am not sure whether your reply covers my feedback on the return trip from HKG to SGP. If it is, then I would say your entire crew do not know how to handle a visual handicapped adequately. It is not an odd case situation. It is en-mass lack of understand of visual handicapped passengers. The result is that I had to do all the assistance by myself when we already requested for assistance.

My other two companions used to travel to HKG without any accompanying assistance. I am now worried what type of treatments they will get when they fly with your airline.

On 29 Nov, Cathay Pacific replied

I have taken the liberty to contact you following my colleague Sean D’Silva’s previous emails to you, about an incident which happened prior to departure of flight CX650 from Singapore on 2 October, and which has brought to my attention.

Let me begin by introducing myself.  My name is Henry Kam, a Customer Relations Executive from Cathay Pacific’s headquarter in Hong Kong.  I am sorry if Sean’s previous emails had upset you in any way – this was certainly not our intention if there were any confusions or misunderstanding created.  And I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some of the details regarding Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon’s policy of acceptance of passengers with disability.

I am extremely sorry to learn of the problems Mr Chew had encountered on that day.  On behalf of Cathay Pacific I must profusely apologise again for the distress, embarrassment and displeasure Mr Chew must have felt.

Cathay has no greater priority than the safety of our passengers and crew, therefore we have been applying relevant safety requirements and procedures to ensure safety of our passengers is never compromised.  In the event of an emergency, we expect our passengers to strictly follow our captain and cabin crew’s safety instructions, such as when to adopt the brace position, how to use life-sustaining tools or where to evacuate the aircraft.  For this reason, we always recommend passengers with hearing or visual impairment to travel with a companion who can attend to their personal needs during the flight and, if necessary, assist them during an emergency.

Based on your booking record, Mr Chew and another visually impaired passenger were travelling together with you; in other words, three of you were flying together.  It was reported that our Singapore airport ground staff had followed the necessary procedures to complete a safety checklist for Mr Chew before boarding.  Unfortunately, due to verbal miscommunications and mishandling amongst our staff, Mr Chew was asked to disembark and thus exacerbated his dissatisfaction.  Due to sensitivity of such incident, we must admit that this is totally unacceptable.  Once again, we must genuinely apologise for the inconvenience we caused Mr Chew.

According to our current policies governing the carriage of passengers with disability, a safety assistant is required if the passenger:

1. is travelling in a stretcher or incubator or require medical attention;
2. is unable to understand or respond to safety instructions due to cognitive or developmental impairment;
3. is unable to assist in his/her own evacuation of the aircraft due to severe mobility impairment; and
4. has both serious visual and hearing impairments and cannot establish communication with cabin crew.

In most cases like Mr Chew, passengers who are visually impaired can communicate normally with others, therefore they should be allowed to travel alone.  A safety assistant is required only if the passenger claims that he/she is unable to physically assist in his/her own evacuation.  We currently do not have any limitation towards safety assistant, such as one assistant can only attend to one disabled passenger.  Mr Chew has visual impairment but is able to talk, and he was accompanied by a normal adult.  Based on the above guidelines, the incident should not have happened as he should be eligible to travel alone.  

In view of the incident, we have urged our Airport Headquarters Department to follow up with the Singapore local management team, to ensure their frontline team has learnt a lesson and to avoid this case from happening again.  The concerned department will also reinforce the current policies and procedures with the Singapore team to ensure proper, consistent service is rendered at all times.

We sincerely apologise once more for the inconvenience we caused you and Mr Chew.  I hope that you will view this as an isolated incident which will not deter you from choosing to fly with us again, and we look forward to an opportunity to restore your confidence in our service.