You can call it envy if you like, but I don’t think much of “fashion/lifestyle bloggers”. Their phenomenal success, being able to actually make money by blogging about their expensive tastes, their lavish, extravagant lifestyles, highlights two points. 1)Singaporeans are shallow and 2)Conspicuous consumption is what drives the local economy. Last week, bloggers Jayne Tham, Lian Meiting and Tricia Ong (let me know who is who in the picture below) reported on social media that they had their money stolen while vacationing in a resort in Bali.
So Ms Tham, you lost some money in a resort and you immediately accuse the staff at the hotel for stealing your money. Let’s say you went to a party at your friend’s home. You lost $1000 there. Would you accuse your friend of her family members of stealing your money? Assuming that they didn’t know anything about it, don’t you think your friend would have sided with her family members and raised her voice if you insist on accusing them of stealing your money? What if you’ve lost the money somewhere else?
Now for Tricia Ong’s account:
It’s pretty much the same thing and she seemed to see the manager’s eagerness in advising them to claim insurance as “proof” of their guilt or even modus operandi.
Lian Meiting on her Instagram:
3 of us staying in different rooms got our MONEY STOLEN! Singapore dollars + Malaysian Ringgit + Indonesian Rupiah = worth more than S$1,000!!! The villa manager – Mrs Ari Wartini was blindly siding her staffs (cleaners, butlers, security) who were staying in our villa. We left after the confrontation & fled to a hotel for our last night because we were worried about our safety. We wanted to make a police report but she told us she is friendly with the police here and tried to scare us by saying that if we make a police report and blow up the matter, we may not be able to go back to Singapore tomorrow. –
The Manager, Mrs Ari was useless in handling the matter and just told us flatly “I asked my staff, they didn’t take the money” & she was shouting at us & not taking blame for anything & asked us to claim our lost money from our travel insurance. She was very quick to push us to make claim from travel insurance. This must have happened many times as THEY know exactly what to say. –
Friends, please share this to prevent anyone else from becoming victims like us. Who knows, if we do not get out there quickly on advice of a local Balinese man and just forget about all our money, what could have happened to us.
So far so good. A pretty consistent story from the three ladies except that there is so much conjecture based on intuition. However, I find it strange that $1000 is not a lot of money to be carried around between three people ($300+ per pax). Why did they leave it in their rooms? That didn’t seem to bother their followers who responded in the usual way, sharing their posts, vilifying the resort and its management and warning others. When the management at the resort realised that they had been badmouthed on social media, they responded by revealing private messages between them and the bloggers. A whole new story was revealed.
What are we seeing here? Threat and extortion! Let’s get back to the party analogy. You lost money at your friend’s party. Your friend suggested that you go to the police. Instead of making that the first thing you do, you refused to go to the police and demanded for cash compensation from your friend! This is totally outrageous and unreasonable. And these folks haughtily proclaim themselves as “influencers”. Yeah, right. Please don’t influence me or my kids and make us behave like gangsters.
Wartini’s claim that the Singaporeans were unwilling to go to the police can be supported by the screen capture above. Apparently the bloggers did go to the police station later on to make a report, and the officers even offered to follow them back to the villa to carry out an investigation. The bloggers were said to have declined.
With this side of the story unfolding, the response from social media was swift and predictable. The women were called a variety of names and described as “shameful”, “disgraceful”, “foolish”, “spoilt” etc. Some lame explanation came from the bloggers, saying that they were “scared”.
“On hindsight looking back, perhaps reacting in such a manner wasn’t right. My friends and family who know me know deep down that I do not advocate threats,” wrote Tricia. “The villa was quick to circulate our text messages with no censorship to our phone numbers shows much about their unprofessional invasion of our privacy and personal information even as a paying guest at their villa.”
She also said that the bloggers’ stand about the matter remains and hoped that people could understand why they reacted the way they did under the circumstances. In fact, I do understand why they reacted the way they did. Fame had gotten into their heads and they felt entitled to throw their weight around to the extent of extorting money from others based on their own suspicion. Looks probably can’t kill, but they can certainly lie. There are conmen and thieves in Bali, but most Balinese are honest, friendly and humble people – far more honest, friendly and humble than these three Singaporean bloggers.
Read also, Bigshot Photographers & Their Bullshit
Read also, The bleak future of writing travel.
© Chan Joon Yee