May 10, 2006
The Singaporean executive fired off a curt email to his secretary, who had already left the office.
"You locked me out of my office this evening because you assume I have my office key on my person. With immediate effect, you do not leave the office until you have checked with all the managers you support," Loke wrote, according to copies of the emails seen by vnunet.com.
The secretary, Rebecca Hu, emailed a blistering reply. "I locked the door because the office has been burgled in the past. Even though I'm your subordinate, please pay attention to politeness when you speak. This is the most basic human courtesy. You have your own keys. You forgot to bring them, but you still want to say it's someone else's fault," she wrote.
Hu copied her reply, along with Loke's original email, to all of EMC's staff in China. Someone copied the email to a friend outside the company, and during the next couple of weeks the email exchange was forwarded around other companies in China, apparently reaching thousands of people, some of whom posted it on online forums.
Recommended by Lucian: "Online communication as the great equaliser."