On February 13, Actor Xavier Ong went live on Facebook to explain the circumstances that surrounded his departure from Sibay Shiok and where things currently stood now.
For context, “Sibay Shiok” is a livestreaming and e-commerce company that mainly focuses on food and beverages, which was founded by Terence Cao, Vincent Ng, Shane Pow, and Dawn Yeo.
Hmmm… It seems like a lot of Mediacorp actors are moving into e-commerce these days.
Xavier Ong’s Experience in Sibay Shiok
In the Facebook livestream which started at 6pm that Sunday evening, Xavier said that he had joined the Sibay Shiok around August of last year, with the expectation that he was just going to be a livestreamer for the company.
As he continued to work in Sibay Shiok, however, his workload started to become heavier.
The 27-year-old found himself having to manage the backend administrative work like managing Sibay Shiok’s Telegram account, supporting other celebrities’ livestreams, and keeping track of the company’s daily profit.
While Xavier never signed up for these responsibilities, he claimed that “he was completely fine with that” and even saw these difficulties as learning opportunities for himself.
He kept an optimistic attitude, but things gradually turned for the worse as the months wore on.
“As expectations increased, words got harsher. Whenever things don’t go right, I start getting reprimanded and scolded even though it was not my fault.”
The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back
In light of Xavier’s broadening job scope, it’s quite apparent that the administrative gears of Sibay Shiok was becoming increasingly dependent on him.
This is further supported by the fact that Xavier would be blamed for miscommunications even when he wasn’t around, and he was often being held accountable for others.
“I expected the team I was working with to be able handle and manage a clearer communication and keep work effective regardless of my presence,” the 27-year-old actor said, reading off the message he sent to Terence shortly before his departure.
However, the increasing workload wasn’t the main reason why Xavier Ong chose to leave Sibay Shiok on 6 Jan.
Rather, it was the verbal abuse that Terence Cao would frequently hurl at him on and off camera for the mistakes, regardless of whether he was to blame or not.
Xavier would be repeatedly called “idiot” and “useless”; insults that he had never expected would be directed at himself, especially since he was doing more than what he was supposed to be doing.
And the straw that broke the camel’s back was a message that came from Terence: “I’m paying you, just shut up and work.”
The message seemed to insinuate that Xavier Ong had to accept and live with the toxic working environment simply because he was on Terence’s payroll, which eventually led Xavier to the realisation that he didn’t actually have to deal with this abuse.
After all, Xavier Ong is a veteran actor himself, perhaps not as successful as the older celebrities and founders of Sibay Shiok, but he’s still financially capable.
In fact, after Xavier decided he quit and parted on what he presumed to be “amiable terms” with Sibay Shiok, he had been offered numerous job opportunities from various platforms, only for him to decide to open his own e-commerce livestreaming company called City Boy in the end.
Xavier: Sibay Shiok Owes Him $13,000 in Remuneration
After his abrupt departure in January, there were still a few things that were left unsettled.
For one, Xavier Ong revealed in the Facebook livestream that he hadn’t been paid the five-digit figure salary he had been promised for all of his work—which he later disclosed was $13,000—and his attempts to obtain what was owed to him was met with rebuffs.
Xavier was first ignored for weeks on WhatsApp before he was eventually blocked altogether.
The second issue that cropped up was that since Xavier Ong had been integral in the backend administrative work, he held ownership over the Sibay Shiok Telegram Channel, which was acting as an e-commerce concierge for the company, while the others were just administrators.
Being rightfully annoyed and justified for wanting the salary he was promised, Xavier Ong decided to disable the administrator’s rights to post and delete items, though they were still perfectly capable of replying to any messages within the channel.
And finally, Xavier started to get replies again, except the topic mostly revolved around the Telegram Channel instead of the dues that he was owed.
Shibay Shiok’s Response to Xavier’s Livestream
Hours after Xavier ended his livestream, Terence Cao and Dawn Yeo went live on their Sibay Shiok Facebook page with a late announcement at 11pm.
Taking into consideration how Terence Cao had verbally abused him and later ignored him after he quit, the 54-year-old actor’s response to his livestream was not surprising to Xavier.
In the Sibay Shiok livestream, Terence Cao proclaimed that they would be on a Zoom call with their legal team based in Singapore tomorrow (14 Feb) regarding the allegation that their company owed someone $13,000, because “this allegation doesn’t only tarnish my reputation, but each and every one of us at Sibay Shiok”.
The founder of Sibay Shiok said that he would rather leave the arguing to the professionals than take it on himself.
Afterwards, he started to address the entire subject of the almost-defunct Telegram Channel.
From Terence’s perspective, he stated that the almost-defunct Telegram Channel had been hacked a few days ago, and he even mentioned that “this person kicked all of us out of the group, including the administrations, Dawn, and I. We were all kicked out.”
Uh not really, the truth is that only your admin rights got disabled and held hostage by an unpaid worker who could have frankly done more damage to the Telegram Channel if he chose to.
Seated by Terence’s side, Dawn chimed in, stating that an old friend informed the team that there had been an administrator answering questions inside the group the entire time.
Dawn even wondered, “I’m very curious who this ‘administrator’ is because none of us were inside the group, so who was that ‘administrator’?”
It should be noted that throughout their entire livestream slash Q&A session, the pair seemed to consciously avoid saying Xavier Ong’s name altogether, like he was freaking Voldermort.
Xavier’s Disappointment Towards Dawn
As previously mentioned, Xavier was well-aware of Terence Cao’s attitude to him by then, but he had never expected that Dawn would say something like that.
In an interview with Shin Min Daily News on 14 Feb, Xavier said: “Terence Cao starting a livestream to make a response doesn’t surprise me, because it was within my expectations, but Dawn’s appearance made me feel slightly disappointed. When [we] were in Thailand, she always protected me, it was the same in Singapore.”
When inquired about what were his plans regarding the legal actions Terence Cao intended to take, Xavier expressed that he had used that livestream as a mean to put an end his associations to Sibay Shiok. If Cao truly wishes to go to those lengths, he’s helpless to do anything about it.
The 25-year-old actor also remarked that he hasn’t received any lawyer’s letters yet and he can only adapt to the circumstances as they come.
Cutting The Long Story Short
The somewhat hysterical and ironic part about the whole issue though, which Terence Cao seems to have failed to grasp when he decided to make the late announcement, was that Xavier Ong genuinely wanted to put an end to everything.
In his own livestream, Xavier had declared that by 23:59 on 13 February, he would turn over the Telegram Channel ownership over to the administrators, because he has simply no use for it, and he just wants to focus his attention on his new business.
The problem has dragged on for so long that even Xavier deems that it’s no longer worth it to chase after that $13,000 salary that he was owed; he would rather let bygones be bygones, treating his time at Sibay Shiok as a learning experience in general.
As a matter of fact, Xavier Ong even thanks Sibay Shiok for the hard-earned experience it has given to him early on and placed it in the description of that particular Facebook stream.
Had it not been for all the extraneous work he was given; he wouldn’t have the knowledge or courage to start his own business venture.
Silver linings on a cloud, I guess?
Xavier Ong’s decision to let go off the unimportant, cutting off the loose ends and tying them neatly so that he can prioritise his time on better and more productive things is certainly admirable.
Not holding any grudges in spite of not acquiring the dues owed to him for his contributions and work, letting his time and effort become like a gratuitous toss-away of charity, isn’t something a lot of people can declare themselves capable of.
To give my two cents though, the chances of Xavier Ong getting either his salary or a lawyer’s summons seems equally implausible.
And if you need a 25-year-old to handle most of the backend work instead of gathering a dedicated team to do so… Perhaps there’s something that needs to be amended in the business model?
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