Toa Payoh hawker centre couple punished by society

From ‘Public backlash making us live like fugitives’, 13 Aug 2017, article by Lester Hio, Sunday Times

The couple caught in a viral video verbally abusing and shoving an elderly man at a Toa Payoh hawker centre said they believe they have been “punished by society” over the past four months.

Mr Chow Chuin Yee, 45, and Ms Tay Puay Leng, 38, were fined in court on Friday for the use of criminal force and harassment on Mr Ng Ai Hua, 76, in April.

Ms Tay was fined $1,200 for using abusive words on the retiree, causing alarm, while Mr Chow was fined $1,500 for using criminal force.

Asked about comments from netizens that they had got off lightly with a fine, Mr Chow told The Sunday Times yesterday that they have been “living like fugitives” to prevent any further public incidents after facing backlash both online and in public.

The last time individuals were ‘punished by society’ because of some online fracas, they decided to leave the country. Think Anton Casey or Amy Cheong. As if a fine and a blemish on their reputation isn’t enough, the Chows felt compelled to play the victim card, breaking down on national TV and dragging an grandmother with dementia into the fray. Telling everyone that you lost it because you had a bad day isn’t going to cut it.

Somehow they seem to be getting it worse than men previously convicted of having underage sex. Because of the bullying incident, the Chows-run Novel Learning Centre got a thrashing on Google reviews, with a total rating of 1.2 stars. More like Centre for Kids Learning How to Steal other people’s Lunches. Oh, wait.

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 7.06.02 AM

It’s unfortunate that they happen to be educators, and were caught being total assholes to an elderly man, but as a society that places so much emphasis on filial piety and graciousness, perhaps we should also aspire to one that exercises compassion and forgiveness, rather than stooping to their level of tormenting others for purely selfish reasons.

Maybe we should reflect on the moments when we kicked mud in the face of another human being but were lucky enough not to get caught and shamed on social media. You could be the professor who screams vulgarities as a service staff for being slow. Or just a nobody who treats your elderly mother at home as a slave. In most cases, you’d be punished only by karma or divine justice, not a society generally oblivious to your everyday behaviour. You could be a moral vigilante one moment and find yourself at the receiving end of a social media witch-hunt the next.

The problem with society being labelled as judge jury and executioner is that it changes our motivation for good behaviour, that it’s no longer about respect or due consideration, but a fear of mob repercussions, that we’re safe only when we’re out of the panopticon that is the public eye.

Toa Payoh couple, be remorseful, make amends, but stop assuming that ‘society’ as a whole gives a shit about you and your self imposed fugitive exile.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: