Never in my years of blogging have I been told to remove a blog post. Minor edits due to factual errors, sure. If it is a request to remove a negative comment, I will usually ignore because I have decided to be fair, just and objective to my blog readers. This is what blogging is about right?
Being asked to remove a post recently is definitely my first. (Read: My original Dîner en Blanc entry)
You may wonder if I had written a very drastic and negative review about a restaurant. Firstly, I won’t waste time writing about an F&B place which I feel do not deserve that extra publicity (good or bad); and secondly, I do not slam places. That is my style.
On the 20th of July, I WAS invited to attend a Dîner en Blanc event as a media personnel (and can bring a friend), the French viral picnic which is to take place in Singapore for the first time. Accordingly, Singapore would be the first Asian city to host the Dîner en Blanc.
Sounds exciting, except for its strict rules – attire must be white, table décor must be white, tables and chairs must brought on your own and of a certain size, beer and hard alcohol are not allowed, neither plastic cutlery and paper plates, food brought must be “quality” food, and men are to sit on one side and women on the other. That is totally discounting people who come with same sex dining partners, but that is another matter altogether. Other than that, I thought that the rules are still reasonable.
On the 21st of August, I blogged about Dîner en Blanc, told readers about the rules and exclusivity, and recommended 12 foods to bring to the picnic. To be more creative, the 12 foods recommended have local or Asian flavours, and are primarily white. I cleared my content with the PR company (just to be safe) and they also thought the idea was fun and imaginative.
Then the problems began.
I first had a warning from fellow food blogger RubbishEatRubbishGrow, “eh, I quote my friend who is helping out with Diner en blanc. It is not one of the picnics to bring hawker food. You’re expected to bring more atas food leh.”
To which I replied “I personally hate the idea that only cakes, tapas and canapes are considered ‘atas’ food. Why can’t Soon Kueh be served on nice China plates and be considered ‘atas’? Right?”
And there I was thinking that the French organisers would be gracious, and in fact happy that we bring a Singapore flavour to their prestigious event. I was so wrong.
The next day I received a call from the PR company for me to totally remove the post. Not modify. Not edit. But totally remove the post. Reason according to both the French and local organisers was the local delicacies were not in line with the image of the picnic.
For your information, the 12 white food I recommended were tau hway, teochew pau, cheese raisin buns, xiao long bao, chee chiong fun, fishballs, Hainanese chicken rice, white bee hoon, chwee kueh, kueh tu tu, soon kueh and popiah – everyone of which I feel deserve to be in that platform. (The 12 food I recommended)
Maybe there is some miscommunication somewhere. (And I still hope it is all a big miscommunication). If the French organisers are unhappy with ‘tau hway’ being featured, let me explain that it is a traditional long-time favourite of local Singaporeans and other Asian countries, made from soy beans which is a great vernacular of Asian gastronomy. Tau hway is a simple, inexpensive and elegant dessert. Jazz it up to be served on a fine China bowl, and it will look good.
And chicken rice actually needs no introduction, but for good measure, it is Singapore’s signature dish, praised by renowned chef Anthony Bourdain no less, and served in not a few of Singapore’s top hotels.
I found out that I was uninvited for the event. Not only me, but ALL other bloggers and social media personnel. Reason given was: There is not enough space for people. Do you buy into that reason?
To both the French and local organisers, my teachers taught me that you do not ‘un-invite’ guests to an event. At least we all know that is being very un-courteous and impolite. Basic manners, isn’t it? Who would have expected – coming from what one would have imagined to be one of the classiest events of the world.
I am absolutely fine with not going for the Diner En Blanc event. Remember, I am only going to be there because I WAS invited.
Screen capture of Diner En Blanc’s Facebook reply
Here are three lessons I take from this incident:
1) You can disrespect me as a blogger, and disrespect my blog post, but you do not disrespect my culture. If you are going to hold a party at my house, I welcome you with open arms, I respect your rules but please respect your hosts as well.
2) My Singapore local delicacies are the classiest food ever in our hearts. Yes, foie gras, bisque, mille-feuille, escargots, crème brulee are all classy-sounding food. Our tau hway, chicken rice and soon kueh are also all classy in their own way. Thank you very much.
3) You do not dictate to bloggers which posts to put up, which posts not to; invite us, then uninvite us. You do not own us; Neither do you own the Internet.
My last note is for the local organisers and attendees. I would urge you to stand along-side with us, that our Singapore local delicacies that we grew up with, lived with, feed our children with, and feel so proud of, that represents our colourful heritage – can appear in a white prestigious picnic like Dîner en Blanc.
Of course, I still hope, this is all a big misunderstanding.
Fellow blogger Smith Leong created this, which brought a smile on an otherwise stressful day.