An ex-colleague now in Thailand writes (in a letter to the Straits Times) of her encounter with bureaucrase (a word which I found doesn't exist but still seems apt) in Bangkok. It certainly seems Singapore's international men of ministry who are based in the Land of Smiles have succeeded in immunising themselves from the earnest charity and open-heartedness that the Siamese (even those not who don't cater to the farang trade) extend to all who come with good faith and fair hopes.
"I am heartened to read that so many Singaporeans are showing great compassion and sympathy for the victims of the tsunami disaster.
As a fellow citizen, I feel the same and have been trying to offer my assistance in any small way that I could in Bangkok. Besides donating money and clothing, I had wanted to do more.
As a Singaporean, I had thought the best way for me to offer my assistance was through the Singapore embassy here, and that prompted me to call the embassy. To my disappointment, my help was not required. What was more discouraging was the slightly condescending tone of the reply by the Singaporean embassy employee – “How can you help” – after I had identified myself as a fellow Singaporean here in Bangkok and would like to offer assistance in ANY way that I could.
I had rather expected that the embassy was in the best position to inform what help it requires if any; and if it doesn’t require any help at all, I thought my call could at least warrant a “We do not require assistance at the moment, but thanks for trying to help” reply.
This was in stark contrast to a Thai hospital worker whom I met while I was trying to donate my A+ blood. She had informed me that the hospital currently requires only RH-Negative blood, and thanked me profusely for my intentions and for offering to help.
I do understand that the embassy is probably swamped by calls and enquiries at this point, but turning a volunteer away in this manner will surely discourage people from volunteering in the future. This is especially true when the Singapore government is trying so hard to promote volunteerism in Singaporeans."