Swee Heng Bakery apologises for Jurong West staffer who called customer 'hei ren' (black person)

Can't believe this is happening in 2020.

Sumita Thiagarajan| January 24, 06:26 PM

[UPDATE on Saturday at 12:45am: Adding statement and apology from Swee Heng Bakery]

Swee Heng Bakery has apologised on behalf of a cashier who called a customer "black person" in Mandarin in an incident the customer ended up tweeting.

In a statement shared with Mothership in the wee hours of Saturday morning, a spokesperson for Swee Heng said it takes the issue of offensive terms "very seriously", and that the seriousness of the term the cashier had used has been explained to them.

"... our staff totally don't mean the word. We already explained to our staff the seriousness of this word. And we take this issue very seriously. We apologise on behalf of the staff."

Our earlier story follows:

Chinese New Year is upon us, and many of us are grabbing last-minute goodies and bakes for family gatherings and such.

One Twitter user going by the name Prabha decided to get a cake from a Swee Heng Bakery outlet.

Staff calls customer "hei ren"

Unfortunately, she said she was next in the line to pay for her cake when she overheard the cashier allegedly saying "hei ren" to a colleague.

Screenshot via @prabhahaha on Twitter

Screenshot via @prabhahaha on Twitter

The location tagged to her tweet appears to be Block 495 Jurong West Street 41, and according to Swee Heng's Facebook page, there is indeed an outlet there.

The South Star Jewellery shop photographed in the picture she took is also located at that block.

'Black person'

As Praba didn't understand what the cashier said initially, so she decided to text a friend to ask what it meant.

translation of hei ren

And as people who are familiar with the Chinese language may know, the term "hei ren" translates to "black person".

Naturally, she said she felt hurt when she learned what it meant.

Returns to store to give the cashier a piece of a mind

In a later tweet, she disclosed that she returned to the store a few minutes after the incidents to confront the cashier but the cashier could not be found at the store.

Screenshot via @prabhahaha on Twitter

She chipped in with a cheerful advertisement for the bakery nonetheless:

Screenshot via @prabhahaha on Twitter

Support and apologies

One Twitter user, felt sorry that Prabha had to experience what she did at the bakery:

screenshot of supportive user Screenshot via @54BWAYDELIVERY on Twitter

Another user found the incident disgusting and mentioned that they are going to miss eating bread from that bakery after Prabha commented that she doesn't even want to eat the cake anymore.


We have reached out to Swee Heng for comment, and will update the story accordingly.

Top photos by Prabha/Twitter