Back in 2016, Torque Magazine (Singapore) published a post online, with the title ‘only ang mohs drive convertibles with the tops down in sunny Singapore‘. I posted a little something on my Facebook page because quite frankly, I felt that it lacked respect, decorum and professionalism.
As much as I thought I was infuriated two years back, a recently published article by Torque Magazine (Singapore)got me even more riled up. Having read and re-read the article, I have to say that while most of the article was relatively harmless, there were segments that I find highly inappropriate, extremely elitist, unprofessional, bias and sexist.
Allow me to elaborate…
Firstly, the captions used on Facebook. I am all for Freedom of Speech, especially so on an individual’s post, but not on a post by the No.1 (supposedly) automotive magazine in Singapore. The decision to use the term Ah Beng (colloquial for young punk here) creates an imagery of social stigma, specifically in this context, chaps who tune/modify their cars/motorcycles. In most developed nations, such people are categorized as enthusiasts or even aficionados, regardless of whether the tuning/modifications are tasteful or not. Just like art, it is afterall subjective. [Note: I am not condoning illegal activities such as street racing, even if it is occasionally associated with us enthusiasts.]
A person (or a group of people) who share certain traits, lifestyle options and or characteristics should not be stigmatized in such a manner. Maybe Torque Magazine (Singapore)or the article’s writer, would like to explain in more specific detail precisely how they define an Ah Beng and an Ah Beng car/汽车/vehicle.
Secondly, and this is the bit that really got to me, was when the article mentioned “if a date wanted to take a ride in a Hyundai Sonata, she could easily flag down a taxi/cab“. It went a step further by stating that if you (the driver) had “a taxi fantasy, to play it out in a Mercedes or Chrysler taxi“ instead.
From my personal perspective, I feel it demeans all taxi drivers around the world, maybe even Uber/Grab drivers as well. Driving a taxi is just like any other full-time or part-time profession, and being a driver should NEVER be frowned upon. Is the writer implying that anyone who is a driver should be ashamed of themselves? That their vehicle, which is good enough to ferry paying passengers, is not good enough to pick up a date on their first date?
[Maybe taxi/Grab/Uber drivers should reconsider how they spend their time and hard-earned money, before picking up the next issue of Torque Magazine (Singapore) and/or clicking on their URL weblinks…]
Likewise, I’m wondering if the writer is trying to imply that all Hyundai Sonata, Mercedes E-klasse and Chrysler 300C car owners made the wrong decision in purchasing their beloved cars? Last I checked, there should be no judgement regarding what vehicle a person owns and/or commutes in. *A new Sonata costs approximately SG$125,000; a new E-klasse will set you back anywhere between SG$260,000 ~ SG$580,000; and a new Chrysler 300C will cost approximately SG$230,000. So even if a person decides to buy or lease for him/herself one of these cars, and to use it to pick up his/her date in, it sure as hell seems to be anything BUT a bad decision nor something to look down upon.
[Maybe the Hyundai, Mercedes and Chrysler dealers in Singapore needs to revise their advertising/marketing budget with a publication that demeans not just their marques/brands, but also their drivers/owners…]
Finally, and this should not come as a shocker… Is the writer implying that if one does not own a car, he or she should not hail a taxi to pick up his or her date? What if he or she can’t afford a vehicle? Or considers it an unnecessary financial burden? Or feels that it is not environmentally friendly? What if his or her car were in a workshop for servicing and repairs, and it is raining? What if the MRT broke down? Etc…
In what is probably their attempt to alienate themselves from potential electric vehicle (EV) owners, as well as most of their advertising clients, Torque Magazine (Singapore) decided in their article that it was acceptable to look down on electric vehicles.
Regardless of what your personal opinion is on electric vehicles, Torque Magazine (Singapore) considering them to be bad options for a first date, is like saying “don’t eat rice even if it satisfies your hunger, because it is loaded with carbs and will make you fat”. [Note: The discussion here is not related to actual real-world environmental friendliness of electric vehicles.]
Firstly, vehicles that run on petrol or diesel may also run out of juice on a first date, just as an electric vehicle might. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure sufficient fuel/charge, just like how it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure sufficient credits in the cash-card for carpark payments; properly inflated tyres and well maintained brakes for safety, etc…
Secondly, with the Singapore government advocating a carlite society; the same government encouraging the new nationwide electric car-sharing programme; and not forgetting global initiatives for the reduction of fossil-fuelled vehicles on the roads in the decades to come, the argument put forth by the writer is to be considered redundant, irrelevant and erroneous.
[Maybe dealers for electric vehicles in Singapore need to reevaluate not just their advertising/marketing budget with Torque Magazine (Singapore), but also reconsider offering them test-drive units.]
In one single sentence, and in what is probably their attempt (again) to alienate themselves from all car enthusiasts, Torque Magazine (Singapore) seem to have concluded that all tuned/modified cars are a turn-off.
Here is my blow-by-blow argument…
Starting with stupid spoilers galore. Unknown to Torque Magazine (Singapore) and the writer, but known to all car enthusiasts, race drivers, engineers and physicists… A proper aerodynamically designed rear-spoiler creates additional downforce on the rear-axle, especially so at higher speeds. This downforce in turn, allows for greater grip between the rear tyres and the road surface. [Note: greater downforce = greater drag = potentially higher fuel consumption.] (Check this out!)
Secondly, a ghastly bodykit, neon lights and loud paint jobs. As I mentioned earlier, art is subjective. While I agree that not all aftermarket bodykits, additional lights and flamboyant paint/sticker jobs are appealing to everyone, it would be grossly inaccurate (and rude) to state that they are ghastly. Even car manufacturers themselves, offer upgraded bodykits and unique colours as options. Ultimately, us car enthusiasts upgrade (or modify) our prized possession(s) because we hope to individualize, to stand out, to be unique. Torque Magazine (Singapore) must find this concept baffling. Either that, or they have never seen one of these, or one of these, or one of these.
Finally, Torque Magazine (Singapore) has also further negatively stigmatized enthusiasts keen on tuning/modifying their car, as per their Facebook post caption which I mentioned earlier in this blog post. Having a car that is fitted with a spoiler (big or small), with neon lights installed, and sporting a loud/flamboyant colour, does not immediately make the owner an Ah Beng.
[Maybe car enthusiasts should realign their opinions and ratings for Torque Magazine (Singapore) being the supposedly No. 1 monthly car magazine in Singapore, especially since they seem to despise us.]
By now, you may have realized that I highlighted the words she/her/female in all the images taken from the article, in this blog-post. Throughout the entire article, the writer repeatedly uses she/her/female, clearly implying that all car owners and drivers who are picking up their dates on a first dates, are men. Is Torque Magazine (Singapore) also implying that women do not have the ability to own a car? Or drive a car? Or to pick up her date on a first date? I have been picked up by female car owners/drivers on multiple occasions, and I did not find that odd.
Now if this isn’t considered sexist, then I am not sure what is.
Ultimately, I get it, the writer(s) at Torque Magazine (Singapore) are having a difficult time in creating content. After serving as a publisher for 9trothese past eight years, I know firsthand how challenging it can get.
Having said that, there is a big difference between writing on our personal blog or on our social media page, versus writing for a credible media. There is a social responsibility for us, writers for credible media outlets. I personally feel that the credibility of Torque Magazine (Singapore) has diminished drastically in the past few years. The unwritten rule being first and foremost, to write about facts substantiated by more facts. Secondly, if there is nothing to write about, it is better not to write anything. Thirdly, just like in verbal conversation, think before you speak/write.
This article published by Torque Magazine (Singapore) was clearly an attempt to create a lighthearted clickbait-styled comedy. I have a feeling it backfired. Furthermore, even as the article failed to provide fair and realistic opinions, it failed further by not offering any form of solution for the person who is planning on picking up his or her date, on a first date.
I decided to put my thoughts here in writing, because I felt that my vlog didn’t adequately address the lack of social responsibilities and civic mindedness pertaining to this article published by Torque Magazine (Singapore).
While I have nothing personal against Torque Magazine (Singapore) and/or any of their writers, I do feel that there is a need for better editorial management. I say this to my team all the time, “Everyone makes mistakes, and it is important to learn from them and never repeat them. It is equally important for each and every single team member (colleague) to look out for each other.”