Monday 3 February 2014

Mediocrity is Better than No Mercy

"When managers tolerate a culture of mediocrity, they reinforce the most pernicious barrier to change. Mediocrity insidiously works its way through every nook and cranny of the organization. It anesthetizes people into passivity and even worse, creates a quicksand of generalized inertia that continually frustrates those who attempt to shake things up towards real change.

The symptoms are numerous - shoddy workmanship, impolite staff, poor internal infrastructures, insufficient training, a culture of blame, lethargy, complacency, reactivity and defensiveness, and very often, all the ills are manifested through poor customer service". says Lohcifer of LohandBehold.

I recently had the misfortune of being slapped with a "warning letter" from my company due to a mediocre officer in charge of investigation in the company.

Please allow me to share with you my experience.

"On 24/01/2014 at around 9.30am, I accepted a call booking to pick passenger(s) at Cashew Park Condominium.

A short distance from the gate to the lobby of the first block in the condo, I saw two young men in early twenties talking to each other. One was quite plumb and the other had yellow colored hair. Both were wearing shorts and flashy T-shirts.

I stopped in front of them and used my hand signal to check whether they were the ones who made the call booking. They did not acknowledge my hand signal and gave me a surprised look. They also ignored me.

Assuming that I had arrived at a wrong pick-up point and the young men were not the passengers, I decided to leave the lobby and moved forward to reverse my taxi out of the condo.

Unfortunately, while reversing my taxi, the right side of my back door slightly knocked against the tail end of a parked 16tons lorry. The lorry did not suffered any damage as it has a steel beam bumper. My taxi had a slight scratch at the place of impact. The broken left signal light was due to an accident that happened a long time ago.

I left the condo to search for my missing passengers but ended in vain.

In the same evening, an officer from my company called me to inform me that the young man had lodged a telephone complaint against me, alleging that I had driven recklessly after the serious accident with the lorry. The officer wanted to hear my side of the story and I gave him my account of what happened as written here. He then ordered me to report the accident and send my taxi for inspection at our company workshop asap. I complied to what he instructed obediently on 28/01/2014.

On the day when my taxi was at the workshop undergoing inspection, I received a WARNING LETTER dated 27/01/2014, that I had committed a "service lapse" and it would affect performance incentive of hirer."

I was flabbergasted and wrote them an email (after C.N.Y. so as not to spoil their festive moods):

" To: Senior Investigation Officer - Driver Affairs. Dated 03/02/2014

Re: WARNING LETTER - ACCIDENT RELATED CASES - At Cashew Park Condominium 20/01/2014 at 09.29hrs

Dear Sir,

I had to suppress my indignation upon receipt of your WARNING LETTER relating to an "accident" case at Cashew Park Condominium.

In my opinion, there was no ACCIDENT. If you consider lightly touching the back of a stationary lorry while reversing my taxi as an accident, then I believe no motorist in this word is humanly able to maintain an absolute clean driving record in his lifetime. If you can tell me honestly that you NEVER had any unintended or minor mishap in your driving career, I would salute you as the most impeccable motorist on earth. You are probably better than a robotic driver.

Now, in your warning letter to me regarding my accident case, you mentioned that you have carefully considered all the facts, which were obtained from a telephone call from the young adults (complainants) and my written explanation ( as written above ). 

Basically, it was a question of whether you believe the complainant side of the story or mine. I appreciate that it is a dilemma that all investigators had to face. But to arrive at a fair and accurate judgment, you ought to have indisputable evidences on your desk before you make a judgement.

In my case, I wonder what evidences you had, apart from the cell-phone call from the complainant, to firmly determine that I was guilty of reckless driving?

Did you go down to the site or made an effort to take statements from the security guard as a witness?

Did the complainant provides you with a video recording of my reckless driving? No, right? So, your facts were based merely on hear-say and therefore, it could be a pack of lies.

By the way, the driveway from the guardhouse to the lobby and the car park is a narrow lane of less than 50 meters. How could I be driving at a dangerous speed on such a short and narrow stretch of road in my 7 years old Toyota Crown Taxi?

Could it be possible that the complainant made a baseless complaint against me to spite and take revenge at me for failing to pick them up?

In any case, an In-Vehicle camera would have vindicated me.

Apparently, you decided to believe only the complainant side of the story and arbitrarily issued me a warning letter for a service lapse on that occasion and reminded me to observe all the traffic & taxi rules & regulation at all time. You also warned me to always project a good image of your taxi service.

I am proud to say that as driving a taxi is my livelihood and profession, I had always being mindful of what you had stressed in your letter. Therefore, I took your warning letter seriously as it questioned my integrity and pride as a taxi driver in your company. Nothing hurts me more than to be wrongly accused and made a scapegoat due to sloppy investigative work in your office.

As my case had elements of doubts with no conclusive evidences, it should not have warranted a warning letter. It would have been better if your esteem office had issued me an ADVISORY LETTER to remind me of the importance of upholding the company image, observe all traffic & taxi rules & regulations and also be mindful of road safety.

Honestly, your warning letter seriously affects my moral and the Performance Incentive in the EIP payout for hirer.

Maybe after another warning letter, you might chose to expel me from your company. Therefore, any warning letter is a serious matter and should be issued conscientiously after exhaustive investigation with irrefutable evidences and certainly not based on frivolous accusations or due to mediocre performance of your office operatives.

The worst practice is to ditch out a standard warning letter to drivers to quickly clear all customers' complaints.

We are partners in the taxi business and depend on each other for the success of our business. If I could not look up to you as my partner for support, who else could I turn to?

I would love to continue our six years of partnership based on mutual respect and not on you looking down on me and vilifying me unnecessarily for whatever simple mistake I might have made.

Life as a cabby is already stressful enough with having to deal with difficult passengers, drunkards, fare cheats, robbery and assaults. That said, it would be helpful if your esteem officers do not make it worst for us.

Thank you and regards"..

This evening, a polite officer called me to advice me that they would review my case and revert asap with......I don't know what?. Frankly, I don't give a shi.....anymore, now that I had said my piece.

Because, comparing my case to the poor student who to had to ditch out $400 for using the electric socket point at a MRT station, mine is like a slap on the wrist and her is like a kick to "the groin". Click here to read Gintai's blog on this subject (Link)

And if LTA had handled my case, I would not only be similarly doomed to mediocrity but worst, raped without mercy. 

Fuck My Job and Life.

P/S: Updated on 18/02/2014.

A few days ago, I received the following company letter dated 06/02/2014:


We refer to your email dated 03/02/2014 with regard to the above-mentioned subject.

Our management has further reviewed your case. We regret to inform you that your appeal is unsuccessful.

Please note that we encourage our taxi drivers to comply with traffic/taxi rules and regulations at all times, so as to project a good image of our taxi service.

Yours sincerely,
Senior Executive
Drivers Services


So be it!!!

Enjoy these antique stickers in my taxi...Not many around!!


Gintai_昇泰 said...

What a langgar situation. It's quite sad and demoralising reading your predicament. It could happen to anyone. Maybe they just want to CYA - cover your arse so that they could close your file. Investigation is conducted by incompetent mediocre officer indeed!

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Gintai,

Thanks for your moral support. I hope I won't end up like you but if it does, screw them!

Lohcifer said...

James, unthinking petty officials proliferate in a culture that tolerates their existence while their superiors bask in unearned glory. We the people suffer. But what goes around comes around. People will reap what they sow. Shit in, shit out. Chin up, James! You are a good man. Don't let the bastards get you down!

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Thanks, Lohcifer, for your moral support too. I really appreciate it at a time when I need it most.

James Lim

Chan Joon Yee said...

It's the same with almost any governing body, including those that govern doctors. Once they receive a complaint, you are guilty until you can prove your innocence. You can either take the rap and comply with their recommended course of action or see them in court. Of course, most busy professionals will just do the former. Over time, it becomes a habit and common practice.

Anonymous said...

For someone who write as well as you, your letter serves little purpose. Taxi drivers as you have cited exist on lower food chain and are constantly subjected to unfair abuse and discrimination. Additionally, as long as you are with CDG, you will lose any cases brought against you. Their modus operandi is to side the customer. So as long as you drive a taxi in Singapore, you must take shxx from all parties, else, do something else. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

hang in there, james, just live your life to its fullest!all the best, take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Uncle Lim, chanced upon your blog while surfing for reliable taxi driver for my kids.
wonder if you will be keen to fetch my 2 kids from Marine Terrace to Tampines , Monday to friday after their school in the noon? if yes, pls email me at i will pay on a per trip basis.thanks and hope to hear from you :)

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Chan Joo Yee,

Thanks for your comment and sorry for my late response.

Yes, mediocrity is prevalence in almost all G bodies. It's dreadful & we the people suffer. Cheers!

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Annon.

I hope my letter served one purpose only, i.e. to let the top boss in the company know that there are mediocre in his company and TD suffered as a result.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Sherra Sim,

Sorry, I can't help you in this instance as I stay in the west around Bkt. Panjang. Honestly, it's v. difficult to find a TD willing to send your child on a regular basis to a fixed destination, as most TD do not like to be tied down with a fixed schedule. Good Luck!

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

Comrade James,

I can only empathized with your plight. I have similar occurances happened to me too.

But as I have said before, we cabbies are looked upon and treated as "public prostitute". As I don't forsee things will change for the better, I have resigned to this fate.

David Foong said...

Very true. Things will never change. The inferior existence of a Singapore taxi driver is at the mood and mercy of their passengers.

Given any individual disputes, CDG will always side the customer. It's their philosophy to protect the bigger interest of other drivers, or so they claim. My friend was terminated by CDG after 10 years over a current booking incident where he was reported to overcharge an angmo passenger with the booking surcharge, where the angmo didn't actually book. Trivia silly matters!

Boh Tong aka Luke Tan said...

James thank you for sharing with us your experiences. I enjoy reading your blog.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, David,

Thanks for your comment and support.

Hope your life will improve in every aspect in the year of the Horse. Cheers!!


Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Boh Tong,

Thanks for your comments. I like your blog too. You write well and shared many interesting stories too as a cabin crew.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Comrade WeeNeed1ObamaHere,

We're in the same "sampang" in a mighty ocean. Anything stronger than a ripple like a strong wave from a passing tanker, we'll be in danger of capsizing. Be safe. Cheers.

Meteor77 said...

Like all other trade, when you do a good job no body will ever remember. But once you screw up all the fingers will be pointing at you.

Boh Tong said...

James,I admire your stamina to go on driving your cab and still blog at 67 yrs old. We are about the same age and I know it is not easy to do the above. Take care of your health. Love to hear more stories from you.

Anonymous said...

Tell me one incident where the TD wins a case! A case against the passenger, against CDG, against LTA, against TP? It's unheard of and non-existence.

Isn't that sufficient grounds to say that it's nothing more than a waste time to seek redress or even voice out. They always cover up. To them, it's just another attempt from another desperate driver to feebly 'beg', which sooner than later, they will sweep under the carpet as for all cases.

Please have more pride than that.

The dissatisfaction levels amongst TD is reaching higher levels. It's originally meant for the low education unemployed but now giving a huge displacement of jobs from the foreign talents, there is a surging number of educated drivers (like yourself) and some even in management before. These are those who challenges the systems but only find the former regime of handling TD still in practice.

Anonymous said...

Hi James,

I would assume that you should be a NTA member under the umbrella of NTUC. While you have written a well-articulate letter in response to your warning letter by company, you are also entitled the right to seek intervention from Mr Ang Hin Kee, the chief of NTA. Otherwise, your plight will be the next innocent contemporary in the line. Such injustice should be addressed and be pursued to the fullest extent till a revolution of a just system. This is a fundamental right we should uphold in our society. I recognised that challenging the system is never an easy pursuit but if we are relentless in of effort, which history of success in all revolutionises, we could reach a just outcome eventually. I suggest you may want to table it in an open forum if your case fall into deaf ears from NTA. There is certainly a changing scene in the taxi industry which more educated drivers are on board as rightfully pointed by the above anion commentator. This could be a evolving collective voice that may one day becomes an advocate to TD. Unity is strength. Voices should be heard and addressed to a just system.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Everyone,

Chanced upon this "Link" that says a lot about passengers complaints against TD. Interesting read at

Unknown said...

I empathized with u as I am also a taxi driver, everyday I try to project myself professionally driving a taxi. After driving abt 10 mths n encounter a fair share of good n bad experience , heard many sad stories of taxi drivers being booted out unfairly even though most of them have been driving taxi for many years. I realize we have no real protection fr some unreasonable passengers. Seriously something must be wrong here, how to be positive n confident driving everyday when some of these pax may be complaining without reasonable ground. We can only hope n pray we are not the next in line to get booted out...

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Roger,

What you commented are absolutely true. But not to worry. Like I always say "If you live in a forest, don't worry of not having wood to start a fire". Good Luck, Buddy!

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

I used to hold a job in a company. Back then I was a SINGAPORE CITIZEN. I served NS, paid my taxes, obey the laws. And I get to enjoy my rights as a Citizen.

Now after driving taxis for a few years, I realized that although cabbies still hold the PINK IC, we are just a citizen-in-name-only.

Because while a citizen basically needs to obey the Singapore statutory laws, Cab drivers are expected to ALSO obey the LTA REGULATIONS. Take a look at ALL the regulations set by LTA exclusively and only for Cab drivers.

Unlike the statutory laws which passed by legislature in Parliament after some "debate", LTA regulations are not. The LTA is therefore cab-drivers' POLICE, PROSECUTOR & JUDGE. They set the "regulations", they "arrest" you, and they find you "guilty or innocent", totally based upon their "investigations". And most of the time, their investigations will conclude the cab driver as "guilty" as accused.

For example, if you get into an argument with a passenger and some vulgar remarks are used by both the driver and the pax. If the pax complains to the LTA, without evidence, the driver will almost certainly be found guilty of whatever he is accused of, and punished with fine/suspension. Nothing will happen to the pax. Because the pax is not "governed" by any LTA regulations.

In the case of fighting, then police will come in since statutory law is violated. Both the driver and the pax will be dealt with according to the usual judicial process. That's where your rights as "singapore citizen" comes in. But cab drivers will still face the “judgement” of the LTA regulators separately.

Its kind of like in the army, a soldier is governed by a set of military laws exclusively in the military. Though for the cab drivers, its more like we being public slaves/protitutes governed by the (grossly unfair) regulations set by the LTA and Cab companies (they are our PIMPS).

Bottom line, we cab drivers needs to know our place in this society. And our place in this society is about the same as a domestic maid or a bangladash construction worker or a bus driver from China.
We are NO LONGER a citizen (for all intent and purposes) as long as we want to continue to be a cab driver in Singapore.

Realizing this FACT of life for the cab drivers is critical for survival.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, WeNeedOneObama,

I agreed totally with your comment that once LTA appoints itself as legislator, prosecutor, jury, judge and executioner, then we, TD has no other recourse of appeal. Just suffer in silence. TD are really in a pathetic situation.

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

That's why the G has laws that allows the cab companies to legally "steal" our income as they please through raising rentals, when they keep the fares almost the same. The talk about Cab companies are now free to set fares (Taxi industry deregulated) is a ruse. i am pretty sure that the LTA people have instructed the cab companies not to raise fares too much because the PAP needs to appease the general public by keeping fares low to win elections. **

No chance of NTA fighting against the regime as long as G appoints their own PAP lackey inside NTA to suppress our voices.

(** To protect myself legally from being sued by G, I have to state that this is my own opinion. Not meant as a smear or accusations against G ).

Jeff said...

As a graduate and a part time driver holding another day job, taxi driving is by far the more degrading of the two. TD are stereotyped by a large majority as dishonest, rude, disposable and uneducated. For some, TD are their source of 'punching bag' for whatever the reason.

So, here lies the problem. Given the prejudice, TD grew to be defensive to survive and with their lack of training in handling difficult passengers they sometimes resort to aggressive rude behavior, hence the rude TD typecast.

During my TDVL course some years back, the LTA trainer shared a story, the only story which I remember. A TD with an impeccable driving history, zero complains over the 20 odd years of driving receiving 5 serious complains in 1 week. Complains directed straight to LTA for cases of insults, vulgarities, recklessness... Why? It was the last month he could work as a TD before compulsory retirement and he 'had to' vent out all the anger and resentment which brewed over the many long years.

I would say for the most part, TD's behavior are dictated by the society. Sadly with the above attributes topped with the rude typecast, they are not favored by the likes of CDG, LTA. So what happens when one is not favored, they get bashed unreasonably. Meaning, any investigation would be a waste of resources on the uneducated rude TD. When a angmo complains, it's something else. I know, I still work for them in my day job.

The solution is simple. Stomach all the shit, it comes with the job. Like being a police in USA, you risk getting shot. For now, I doubt there will be a change for the better, perhaps until a day when TD gets suicidal with the passenger appearing on the news or TD burning and flipping police vehicles on the news. Then, maybe, we might get some attention.

Anonymous said...

Hi We Need Obama,

Your views and analysis hold some truth in the rights of TO over in Singapore. We actually by virtue of our constitutions have a representation over here. That is the NTA! The issue is its advocacy of the rights of TO is not as forthcoming because the collective movement is passive! Hence, the leadership is equally weak as there is no compelling pressure to make TDs' voice heard loudly. There would not be any teeth if collectively there is no unity of strength. In those days, most of our TDs do not know how to exercise their rights and articulate vocally to put be reckoned. TDs simply rely on their "appointed" or "orchestrated" leadership to "represent" their voices. How effective could it be , I think, it is a foregone conclusion! LTA role is not for TDs' rights but mere a regulator! However, NTA has leader who has a voice in parliament! So, under our constitution, TDs have a voice! It is how strong is the movement that make TDs' voices heard! Well, not to for that NTA is under a bigger machinery; NTUC.

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

NTA... See their Excolist,

They are essentially the PAP and CDG. The very people propagating anti-welfare'ism and survival of the fittest.

Unknown said...

Hi there,

Very sorry to hear of such a situation but salute you for standing up for what is right and doing so with proper etiquette! Hope the rest of the year goes well for you. Cheers!

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

ST 14 Feb 2014: CDG posts record $263M profit.

Operaing profit from taxis grew by 3.6% to $146.2 million, fueled mainly by Singapore.

Congratulations to all cab drivers. We TD, have done it again !
We have yet again for the 9,999 times, let the cab companies “steal” our income, which we labor for 24/7/365 with our blood, sweat and risking our lives on the roads everyday.

Congratulations to the PAP. You have done it again. !
You have yet scored another success with your unjust regulations and laws, that allow such a wealth transfer from the poor cab drivers to the rich Corporations and their top Executives. We cab drivers are so glad and willing to sacrifice our hard earn income, sacrifice our time spent with our families, so that the rich can become richer and richer.. We are also glad that you have make it a crime for us to protest and go on strike…

We TD understand that Capital investments are much much more IMPORTANT compared hard labor. Afterall, without these investments, we cab drivers would be out of job and begging on the streets. So we should be grateful.
Hence, it is totally acceptable for us TD to be earning less and less despite working longer and longer hours, so that the investors in the Cab companies can have stellar ROI.

Afterall, without these investments, we cab drivers would be out of job and begging on the streets right? But we understand, that it didn’t occur to you that without us doing the hard manual labor, the investors would not have such stellar ROI !

Anonymous said...

You don't "Need1ObamaHere", you need to quit TD and work for CDG management. Hopefully then, you will have the best interest for TD or maybe not?

obat tradisional stroke said...

nice for references :)

Chinatown Guy said...

So ashamed while reading this. Some officers just don't have any empathy. I hope it works out for you buddy.

Anonymous said...

Hi James,

I can understand how you feel. I am also a taxi driver and my company is just as bad.

They require me to sign a 2 years contract with them for a new taxi. I had not much choice at that time as their old taxi really cannot make it on the road.

When the old taxi breakdown, they did not have any replacement taxi for me for 18 days and still insist that I continue to pay for rental when the taxi was still in the workshop. Already without income, I still had to fork out for the rental.

I had enough hence I signed for the new taxi. Hoping that I don't have downtime issue.

After driving the new taxi for about 4 months. I sent the taxi to the car agent for regular servicing. I was surprise when my taxi company called me to send my taxi for inspection at their workshop.

They informed me that the car agent sent them photos showing scratches on the bumper at the under carriage area, one will need to raise the taxi in the workshop to be able to view the scratches.

The officers and managers from the company insist that they are damages caused by me. I disputed as scratches at under carriage are common when going above humps on the road. They cannot accept and insist that I repair the scratches immediately or they will deem that I break the contract.

I had no other recourse but to pay $500 to remove the scratches at the authorized workshop, so that the taxi will be in showroom condition and will not affect the company's image.

Do share this with other taxi drivers so that they can escape such uncalled for incidents.

chris said...

and here I am laid off from a company I worked for for the past 8 years looking to jump into this line... but what else can I do, when all the resumes I sent out were most likely casually thrown into the bin? I have a big family to feed; I guess my only choice is to be the prostitue... but for my family and young kids, I will have to do it!

Jhon Staphen said...

Marketing business must be the first priority.
no1 brand marketing singapore | no1 branding singapore

Anonymous said...

After hearing the repair incident, I find CDG more than a pimp but a bully. It's a real shame.

In Dubai, things are 180 degrees opposite. The citizens are protected with job assurance, landed housing and cars. The foreigners do all the work and only permitted to stay in apartments. Though a little far fetched, this is an epitome of welfare state similar to that Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Jeremy said...

I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing with us your keen observations and lively eye for colourful life in Singapore - I noticed that you have been writing less lately....hope that does not mean you are about to quit this blog!

jalil said...

oh sh.. James first of all i salute you for daringly writing back to your Taxi co. The same situation happened to me last year and i was terminated immediately. The story goes the same but there was no accident . According to the company a vehicle behind complained that i was driving recklessly. Sigh... Anyway cheer up James. This is part and parcel of being a taxi driver in a FINE city..

Unknown said...

Dear James, you are an extraordinary writer and you have changed my perception of cabbies. I hope more cabbies are as articulate as you.
I do have a question to ask. I am looking for a cabby taking on shift near Ghim Moh because I hope to arrange with such cabby to pick up my child at her school at Ghim Moh sometimes at 2 pm and sometimes at 4.30 pm. Can you recommend anyone? Please email to me at ... Thanks

Li said...

Hi just wondering, are you still driving as taxi driver? Your last post is in Feb?

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Eric Ng,

Sorry for my late reply.I do not have TD friends living in your area. Like I said before, it's v. difficult to find a TD willing to send your child on a regular basis to a fixed destination, as most TD do not like to be tied down with a fixed schedule. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi James, with so many PMETs now Bo pian forced into driving taxis do you see more competition for a taxi license ? Minimum qualification raised to university degree ?

PTG said...

sir salute to your courage .........we are on the same boat no one understand the life of taxi driver is on less than life of pie on boat............pls keep writing........good bless

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