With a calm mind and under the most peaceful conditions, almost everyone will say that violence is bad. Nobody will regard an emotional person as someone “cool”. But let’s take the hypothetical situation of someone beating up your child, your parent or a loved one. What would you do? Stand there, assess the situation, then calmly call the police and wait for them to arrive, hoping that the victim can survive till then?
What if it’s not a loved one, but just a friend? What if it’s a stranger? What would you do – if anything at all? Heroism is an emotion and it requires some disregard for personal safety. Depending on which side you’re on, one side’s hero is another side’s villain.
On Thursday night, Singaporean models Ziyi Kuek, Esther Lee and Anna Huang were assaulted by a drunk man at Circular Road. This is how it happened:
After a night of clubbing, the three ladies got into a car driven by Ms Kuek and they were off to a place at Circular Road to grab some supper. Just 100m from their destination, a drunk guy got in their way. Ms Kuek sounded her horn and that seemed to have pissed him off. He followed their car and kept kicking it until the front bumper fell off!
The girls got out of the car to confront him. He started getting violent. Instead of fleeing the scene, the ladies insisted on an apology and when he refused, they followed him, videoed him and a fight ensued. You can read the details here.
I have this to highlight:
Asked if no one responded to the incident or moved forward to help them as the man was hitting Kuek, Huang said everyone at the coffee shop and pubs on the other side of the road were watching the action unfold, but none came forward to help them.
Not surprising. Singaporeans are often praised by our leaders as mature, objective people who see the big picture and hence would never stage protests and demonstrations. Nor would they get involved in brawls between one drunk guy and three lovely models. It’s not some sexy catfight or mud-wrestling, but all the folks present obviously just wanted to pull out their cameras and popcorn.
Shift focus to Little India. Last Sunday, a bunch of Indian workers reacted very differently when they saw one of their kind being pinned under a bus driven by someone who is not of their kind. Nobody likes riots and nobody will disagree with the decision to put these folks behind bars. We can’t really compare the two incidents (it wasn’t a lovely Indian model who got pinned under the bus), but what if it’s three lovely Indian models driving in a car down a street in Bangalore and a Singaporean guy decides to kick their car until the front bumper falls off? What if all this is witnessed by a bunch of virile Bollywood hero wannabes? Would the Singaporean guy get out of it alive? Probably not.
Ms Kuek says that she is concerned about the ever-increasing numbers of foreign workers we have. What if all this is allowed to go on? Bad news for the party animals. Our models will not dare to stay out late anymore.
We can feel proud of the safety on our streets here. We can boast about our maturity, our objectivity and our tremendous emotional restraint, but when push comes to shove and without Gurkhas to back us up, can we deal with such situations in a dignified manner? The rioting Indians have shown us that they are not to be messed with. While it’s important to do a bit of self reflection and see how our employers may have given these workers the short end of the deal or how our own citizens may have shown them the cold shoulder, I think it’s also important to show to them that we are not to be messed with.
I’ve worked with Ms Kuek Ziyi before and I wish her a speedy recovery.
© Chan Joon Yee