26 October 2023. The courtroom was packed with media workers and curious men of all ages yesterday, according to Mothership. Hospital drama queen Han Feizi’s fans and haters gathered to see the outcome of her case. This time, there is of course no drama.
A supposedly classless, socialist society like China is ironically, one of the most class conscious in the world. Arrogance is a sign of wealth and power. Courtesy is a sign of weakness and poverty. It may surprise some of you, but most well-off people in China do look down on people like security officers and healthcare workers. There is even a well-documented phenomenon called 袭医/伤医。 But when these folks end up in court, they know better than to taunt the judge. Apart from being a public nuisance, using abusive language on public servants, assaulting a security officer and harassment, Miss Han Feizi was also charged for violating terms of her work permit which she applied for after her student pass application had been rejected. She had applied to work as a clerk at a company called KDL Elements but in reality, she has been working as a freelance hostess. An employee at KDL (which is actually a bar) told reporters from Sin Chew Jit Poh that he has seen her at the bar but she also worked elsewhere.
In court yesterday, Han Feizi pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 weeks in prison and a fine of $600. In her mitigation plea, she claimed that it was her first time travelling overseas and she was doing this because she had 3 relatives in China suffering from cancer, the family is in a lot of financial hardship and she is just trying to help. We don’t know about that. However, her myth about travelling overseas for the first time was quickly debunked by the MOM prosecutor who pointed out that she had travelled to Singapore 4 times before this trip. The douyin videos also show that she has been to Japan and Malaysia.
Interestingly, Miss Han Feizi will be out of jail in a couple of weeks. According to members of the law profession, she is likely to be deported after serving her sentence. She is also likely to be barred from entering Singapore for a certain period. I think most people agree that she got off lightly but speculating on why this might be the case could result in contempt of court.
Given the amount of exposure that this case has been given, even a nobody like Miss Han Feizi can be a rallying point for Chinese patriots in the current political climate. An unexpectedly lenient treatment in exchange for Miss Han Feizi’s obsequious repentance whether genuine or otherwise, should appease the nationalistic firestarters on douyin. Yes, there are people who actually think that Han Feizi’s behaviour is OK. There are people who think that we are just a county and their influencer has the right to gather our entire police force at their feet.
The obvious but important lesson for us to learn is that values and attitudes can be very different between people with the same ancestry. There is a war in the Middle East right now and the popular belief there is very predictable given the prevalent anti-West sentiment. More worryingly, quite a number of Singaporeans, with very limited knowledge of the conflict in the Middle East, are following the trend in China. Take a look at this.
What can we say? Some simple-minded folks are easily influenced by rhetoric and not facts. There may be no good guys in a conflict, but I always choose the lesser evil. I hope the ignorant folks don’t have to learn their lesson by actually dealing with those they think are the good guys.