Thursday, May 07, 2009

Josie and the DBS Credit Card Boycott

I've been chewing over the morality of the DBS Card Boycott for a while.

I think this video will probably do a better job of summarising my thoughts than anything else.

The mistake that many (including myself) make is treating big organisations like DBS as individual organisms. I especially have that problem because I've had the seperate legal entity doctrine drilled into me since 3rd year of law school.

This is a fiction. The operational reality is that a company is defined by its people. Furthermore, the higher up you go, the greater the influence this person has on thoughts and philosophy of the company.

In many senses, an organisation (or subset of an organisation) takes on the identity of its leader. Think Bill Gates, and the Evil Microsoft Empire. On a more local note, think TSMP. I'm willing to wager that all of the senior management of the company have cell group and prayer meetings at lunch time, and those who don't never make it to senior management.

Let's add another thought into the equation - the role of large organisations in society, and what it really means when a consumer buys a product. It's fairly undeniable that large organisations exert a large footprint in society. In many ways, the consumer's choice of which large organisation to support reflects on which message they want to support too.

Let's take an example - when I support Gloria Jean coffee, I would be supporting the fact that Gloria Jean Coffee uses my dollars to support some dubious Christian practices. That's a clear cut example. A less clear cut example would be the support of Apple over IBM - for the longest time, the choice of using Mac's was intimately connected to the objection over Microsoft's OS dominance.

Putting these thoughts together, I think it's pretty legitimate for someone to boycott DBS Credit Cards based on Josie's actions. Rejecting the product would be a pretty good way of saying that (1) you don't condone DBS putting Josie in a leadership position where she can influence the "personality" of DBS marketing and (2) you don't condone Josie's individual actions, and want to stick it where it hurts - her job performance review.

Think of what I've written, and then think of that Argentinian Transexual applying for a bank loan in a department run by Josie. Think of the reaction that she would be getting, and think whether you want to condone such a message.


Anonymous said...

How about Lois Ng and Studio You Pte Ltd, which she owns?

Anonymous said...

the issue of moral complicity is more, well, complex than what you opine.

for a start, how about breaking someone else's ricebowl who does not share josie lau's convictions but happens to work in her department?

and, how about pointing the finger back upon ourselves? you can make the extrapolation about your dbs credit card and josie lau. well, how about us living off the sweat and blood of lesser developed countries? in the spirit of fairness, start thinking about blood on (y)our own hands too.

Anonymous said...

"for a start, how about breaking someone else's ricebowl who does not share josie lau's convictions but happens to work in her department?"


Nonsense. Giving feedback to DBS about Josie Lau and her AWARE debacle will not break the ricebowl of Tan Ah Kow or Lim Mei Ling working in the cards marketing department of DBS.

-ben said...

I'm curious though: would people be so approving of this tactic if, say, in a small town in the Midwest, there's a couple gay individuals, and the townsfolk (99% of which are fundie, bible-thumping, church goers) start a campaign to boycott any business that employs gays?

Both sides can be guilty of bigoted behavior too.

Anonymous said...

I think it's slightly tricky in this case, because DBS is a huge bank and Josie Lau just happens to work there. It could have been any other bank for that matter. It would be a different case were the bank more closely tied to a religious group. For the case of Lois Ng, I could argue that I don't want my money to go towards a religious charity, and then it makes sense to boycott. To boycott the whole DBS because of Josie Lau does not make sense at all.

In the small town in New York State that I live in right now, there are a few business establishments that are owned AND run by a Christian group. While they don't hide their background, they don't advertise it either. As a rule I do not patronize these places. The money earned goes directly to funding their activities, which I do not agree with.

Kian Seng said...

I do think that boycotting DBS credit card is petty and silly. Unless DBS endorse something as an organization that you feel strongly against, then you may argue it is justified. Joslie is all but 1 person employed in DBS.

By doing this are we not saying that we are not as open-minded or inclusive as the ones that we feel strongly against?

Anonymous said...

Fair Comment: I don't tink anyone should let her action bring upon a wrong idea of Christianity. There are black sheeps around. God does not condone homosexuality but He loves them as His children and want Christian to not condemn but to love them as well. anyway, christians are not perfect, just FORGIVEN. Since we too are sinner, it doesn't put us in a position to condemn, so Josie did wrong, but don't think all Christian thinks like her. I don't, I myself am a sinner saved by grace.