The CEO of a Punggol seafood restaurant and three of his staff took the unusual step of bowing deeply for 30 seconds and expressing their utmost remorse in front of the media to apologise to the nation and beyond for a faux pas involving the purported mistreatment of live crabs.
House of Seafood, a restaurant located in Punggol, had allowed people to catch live crabs using a claw machine.
The gimmick device then caused public concern and backlash, as well as the matter being reported to the authorities.
No more live crabs in machines
According to CNA, CEO Francis Ng fronted a press conference and fielded questions from reporters at the restaurant in Punggol Point on Friday, Oct. 25.
Ng vowed to remove the live crabs from the machine.
Ng said: "We fully support the direction of SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and are definitely against animal cruelty."
He also said the restaurant would "cease the catching of the live animals in the machine completely in all House of Seafood outlets worldwide".
This was despite the machine being modified with sponges and rubber-tipped claws to reduce discomfort to the animals.
China had it before
The brouhaha in Singapore was almost unprecedented as Ng said two restaurants of his in China had operated live crab claw machines before with the purpose of educating the public about crabs.
“This is the first time we’re doing it in Singapore,” Ng said, according to CNA.
“If it’s in China, I think don’t need approval. But in Singapore, I think need approval. So I needed to consult and I think they were too early in launching it.”
He added: “As the CEO, I take full responsibility for causing such unhappiness and I’m sincerely sorry for such an oversight.”
House of Seafood initially said the crabs were meant to be caught in the claw machine and released back into the sea.
Oversight and miscommunication
Ng said he should have received approval first before allowing his restaurant to proceed with the placement of crabs inside the machine.
Two other factors led to a premature launch of the device.
Ng said he did not know who to approach in this instance to seek approval.
Moreover, the restaurant's marketing consultant William Soh said the decision to launch the machine was “just a misunderstanding” as the staff assumed approval had been given and went ahead with it.
Worried about backlash
As a result, the staff were worried the backlash would cause the restaurant to close down or that they will lose their jobs.
Soh added that the staff will not be fired or have their pay deducted as a result.
“They are very worried after this incident broke out in public and they have been crying since this morning,” Soh said.
Ng cut short his business trip to China to meet with NParks officials on Friday morning.
SPCA said on Wednesday, Oct. 23, that it had reported the restaurant to the Animal and Veterinary Service, a unit under the National Parks Board (NParks).
On the upside, Ng said the restaurant saw a 20 percent increase in business following the hullabaloo.
The live crabs in the machine have since been replaced with empty boxes, where patrons can catch these and exchange them for cooked crabs.
Here's a video of them bowing at 90 degrees:
Top photo via Today video