Woman alleges discrimination, files report

Ms Diana (above) filed a police report yesterday against Tampines 1 mall (below). The mall has apologised to her, saying the worker who replied to her had been "dealt with appropriately".
Ms Diana filed a police report yesterday against Tampines 1 mall (above). The mall has apologised to her, saying the worker who replied to her had been "dealt with appropriately".PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DIANA HAIRUL, MYPAPER FILE
Ms Diana (above) filed a police report yesterday against Tampines 1 mall (below). The mall has apologised to her, saying the worker who replied to her had been "dealt with appropriately".
Ms Diana (above) filed a police report yesterday against Tampines 1 mall. The mall has apologised to her, saying the worker who replied to her had been "dealt with appropriately".PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DIANA HAIRUL, MYPAPER FILE

Mall rejects her application to rent space as its target audience is 'mainly Chinese'

A woman made a police report yesterday against Tampines 1 shopping mall, alleging that she was subjected to racial discrimination by an employee.

The mall had earlier issued a public apology to businesswoman Diana Hairul, and told The Straits Times it had counselled the employee.

Ms Diana, 36, had inquired on Wednesday about renting a space for a week to host a pre-Hari Raya fashion and apparel fair at the mall's atrium. But the response she received from the mall's management upset her enough for her to upload a screenshot of its e-mail reply on Facebook on Thursday evening. The screenshot has caused an outcry.

The e-mail read: "Hi Dee, We are not so keen to run a Malay road show as our target audience are mainly Chinese. Thus, we regret to inform you that we are unable to rent a space to you."

Ms Diana said she was shocked and felt discriminated against. "Even if they were to say no, at least do it graciously. Such an unprofessional and insensitive reply was not what I expected," she added.

UNPROFESSIONAL REPLY

Even if they were to say no, at least do it graciously. Such an unprofessional and insensitive reply was not what I expected.

BUSINESSWOMAN DIANA HAIRUL

Ms Diana's Facebook post prompted a swift reply from Tampines 1 on its Facebook page the same evening.

"The management and staff of Tampines 1 would like to unreservedly apologise to Ms Diana Hairul and the Malay community for the manner in which the reply to her e-mail was undertaken," it wrote. "Under no circumstances is Tampines 1 discriminating against any race and the management of the company would not tolerate such a position."

It added that the employee, who signed off as "Jen" in the e-mail, had been "dealt with appropriately".

When asked, AsiaMalls, which owns Tampines 1 and five other malls, said it was taking the matter seriously. It managed to speak briefly to Ms Diana on the phone yesterday. AsiaMalls said it had no rental space until the middle of the year, and it rejects applications from external vendors from time to time, depending on whether their merchandise list clashes with the products of its permanent tenants.

In e-mail correspondences seen by The Straits Times, Tampines 1 had requested that Ms Diana provide a list of the fair's intended merchandise mix, before rejecting her. It was only after Ms Diana requested that the mall reconsider her application was she told the atrium was fully booked until August.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, a Tampines GRC MP, gave his take when asked by someone on Facebook: "Insensitive and incompetent staff. Good that the mall has apologised." He urged Singaporeans to "look for ways to repair faults and build on the goodwill that the majority has deposited with each other" when such incidents happen.

The police are investigating.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'Woman alleges discrimination, files report'. Print Edition | Subscribe