Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Eating places at Tian Lye Street (2) – Lam Chun Chew

There were happy incidents that happened at this street, but also some ugly ones. The happy one first. One day, I was eating at a fish porridge stall run by two sisters. The elder one was quite pretty; in fact, she received some marriage proposals from the port stevedores. But apparently, she was not quite ready, because I saw her operating her stall, busy serving her customers. After finishing my cuttle-fish porridge, and was about to pay her, she told me someone had already paid. I was surprised: “What someone already paid – who?” At that moment I saw a fat and short guy sneaking away opposite the stall, meanwhile giggling to himself ,“he-he.”. I told myself, isn’t that guy CTK. Later I confronted him: “Hey CTK, you are not supposed to pay for me!” He retorted: “I touched 4D, and I pay for you cannot ah!“ In other words he found great pleasure in surprising me rather than spending a dollar or two for the consumed porridge. This was the happy incident.

The unhappy incident happened this way. One morning, I saw an unlicensed Indian peddlar selling Mee Siam; the Indian peanut gravy type. He placed a table and a few chairs for his customers. The food was really good. After taking a few mouthfuls, I heard a commotion. A group of about five hefty guys, mostly Indians wearing uniforms, swept down the street. They were obviously from the Environment ministry, chasing after for illegal hawkers. I was caught in the midst of this mayhem. The poor Indian Mee Siam seller was caught flat-footed, rooted to the ground, with the uniformed guys taking away all his utensils. Worst, they chopped up his stall with axes and threw them wholesale onto a medium size truck. I felt disgusted, not only unable to finish the meal, but felt sorry for this hawker. Well I did not have much time to waste and proceeded to my workplace.

The second uglier incident occurred this way. After finishing my lunch, I wanted to exit out of Tian Lye Street. Suddenly, I saw a familiar looking detective whacking up a youngster aged twenty something. This huge detective fellow weighed something like 180 to 190 lbs, heavy weight category punched up a supposed to be criminal of say medium weight category. Worst of all, this supposed to be criminal was unarmed. Handcuffing him should be sufficient, not necessary for violence in broad daylight. I did not understand the need of this detective displaying his martial art skill like: punches, chops, neck-locks, knee to chest thrust on this victim of his. In the fifties I saw gang violence, and in the sixties witnessed this sickening spectacle unfolded right under a large PSA bill-board, advertising violence?

Sometime I wonder whether this police officer was trying to bring justice to the public, maintaining law and order, or trying to settle a personal score. The moral principle is that all human beings are given birth out of their mothers’ wombs and have lives. In short, all lives, particularly human lives, should be treated with respect and not abuse.

12 comments:

Victor said...

Police brutality was common in the old days, wasn't it? If you didn't know the detective personally, I bet you couldn't tell who was the thug.

It sad that it is still happening in some parts of the world today. But nowadays, we have technology like videocam and camera phones to capture it and put on You-tube - instant justice for the victims.

zen said...

In my previous comments, I mentioned that the fifties was an era of wild wild west in Singapore. In early sixties, the new govt was in the process of settling down, but raw justice and abuse were still prevailing. After decades of social reform, we are now able to join the big league of civilised nations.

Lam Chun See said...

Yes I do remember a time when there was quite a lot of news about the high-handed methods employed by ENV officers.

zen said...

Only just recently, cable news from a Chinese speaking country (island) showing a group of about five thugs waylaid a car in a busy road, using wooden bats, broke the the victim's car windows, unlocked the door, dragged him out and gave him a severe beating in broad daylight. Eye-witnesses rang up to the police who took their own sweet time to go to the scene of the assault. Ambulance came to carry the victim away. The police casually led the thugs to the police station. Guess what happened? Police and the thugs were shown having tea together, behaving like a gathering of old pals. Who were the thugs? They were actually debt collectors hired by a local bank chasing the victim who owed the bank a couple of thousand dollars (S$). This story was not pluck out from the Arabian Nights. It was reported internationally through newspapers and cable.

Tom said...

Tom said...
I remember the police in singpore, some of them were Sikhs. When we did Internal security drills,they always carried a big stick,the Gurkas and the sikhs use to shout at each other I believe, they didnt like one another, and they were very aggressive.

zen said...

History recorded that Gurkha troops fought the Japanese with such ferocity when the latter invaded Malaya that most of them were wiped out. Mainly Gurkha together with the Sikhs troops, under the able leadership of General Slim, fought the Japanese to a standstill at bottle-neck of Imphal(a border town near India), preventing the Japanese from crossing over to India. General Slim outfoxed the enemy and turned the table on them. Tributes should be given to the Gurkha, Sikh and allied soldiers for making the sacrifice in Burma.

stanley foo said...

During my teen years in the early 1960s I remember I was at the roadside dinner in front of the Kings Theatre(now demolished) in Kim Tian Road, Tiong Bahru when all of sudden two red Marie Vans with about 30 plus police officers
swooped down and surrounded all the diners. Three police offices approached and asked me whether I had tattoo on my body. One of the officers lifted my shirt and checked when I said that I had no tattoo on my body. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw a few men being escorted to the police van.
During that period whoever had the tattoo on their body stood the risks of being arrested.
Nowadays it is so common to see tattoo even among the weaker sex.

zen said...

In heydays of gangsterism in the fifties, tattooing was some sort of trade-mark for the mobsters, suggesting to the public not to mess with them, especially they were on routine round collecting 'protection money'. The new govt after taking power in 1959 quickly stamped out these social pests. A story circulated around saying that the notorious Yakuza (Japanese secret society) made an enquiry to establish a branch here, quickly exited when they learnt that there is such a law called ISA (Internal Security Act), meaning detention without trial for an indefinite period - scare or not?

Lam Chun See said...

Hey, Stanley. I have be struggling to recall the name King's theatre at Kim Tian Rd. Thanks. I think I was telling my brother Chun Chew but he did not seem to know this theatre. Was the Chinese/Cantonese name Sim Kong?

On the stereotyping by police; they were also quite suspicious of young males with long hair during the late 60 and early 70s era; suspecting them to be drug taking hippies.

zen said...

I must also say that gangsterism is not totally wiped out in Singapore. They can still pose a little threat, but unable to rear its ugly head, why? It is because the country monitoring system by govt authorities, of holders of ICs, passports, work permits, and the likes, is very effective. Another reason is most Singaporeans (about 80%), including many foreigners, live in HDB housing (no more kampongs). So where are the gangsters going to hide? except after commiting crimes run away to nearby countries. The recent one-eye dragon murder case is a good example.

stanley foo said...

Chun See,

You put me on the spot when you asked me whether the Chinese name for the King's Theatre was "Sim Kong." I could not recall but fortunately my wife who was a regular patron of the King's Theatre during the 60s confirmed the chinese name as "Sheng Gong"

zen said...

It is reported that in HK motorists dare not use the car-horns at random. The reason is that no one truly knows the identity of the motorist being horned at. That guy could be a member of the notorious 14K or the Sun Yee On (HK mafia), and then the horn-happy fellow would be in serious trouble. In Singapore, if one is to horn at a action-oriented road-bully, unnecessary confrontation would erupt,followed by much finger pointing and abusive verbal exchange, causing a storm in a tea-cup, especially before the arrival of the police (only when the situation worsens).