A couple who found themselves the subject of an online manhunt for their aggressive behaviour towards an elderly man in a Toa Payoh hawker centre, said they were remorseful for their actions and wanted to apologise to the victim.
“There’s no excuse for my behaviour. After watching the video, I feel disgusted with myself,” said Chow Chuin Yee, 45, on Friday (11 August), who was involved in the incident alongside his 38-year-old girlfriend Tay Puay Leng. “We’d like to apologise, not only to Mr Ng, but to the public, to the netizens, that my behaviour has tarnished Singaporeans.”
He was speaking to reporters after he and Tay were fined $1,500 and $1,200 respectively, over the incident at Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market and Food Centre on 21 April. A video of the incident, which went viral that month, showed Chow shoving 76-year-old Ivor Ng Ai Hua in the back, while Tay used abusive language on him.
Chow, a Malaysian, pleaded guilty to one count of using criminal force against the victim, with one count of disorderly behaviour in a public place taken into consideration. Tay pleaded guilty to one count of using abusive words on the victim.
District Judge Kan Shu Weng called Chow’s behaviour “repulsive and reprehensible” and that there was “totally no justification for his actions”. Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said that Chow chose to behave in a “thuggish fashion”
On Tay’s actions, DJ Kan added, “Considering the fact that the victim was a defenceless old man who just wanted to have a meal…(Tay’s) actions were uncalled for.”
Defence lawyer S. Balamurugan, who represented the couple, said that their actions in April were an “aberration” and that they were both of “good character”. He added that Tay was under “tremendous pressure” as she is the sole caregiver for her grandmother, who is unwell.
Chow is a director at a tuition centre, while Tay teaches at the same centre. Many of their colleagues and family members were present in court.
‘I just snapped that day’
Tay told reporters that she is the sole caregiver to her 89-year-old grandmother, who has advanced dementia and is bedridden. “I only have one thing to say…I’m really sorry to Uncle, but I really didn’t mean to do that. I just snapped that day because I’ve been going through a very tough time,” said Tay as she broke down.
She added that she had hoped to apologise to Ng in person, but had been unable to do so as investigations were ongoing at the time. The couple penned an apology letter which they asked investigators to pass on to him. “If I can, I will gladly want to apologise to him in person.”
Chow said that the last four months since the incident had been “very, very difficult”, with “pointing fingers everywhere I go”. Explaining his behaviour on the day of the incident, he said, “I’m just lost that day…after receiving a distress call from Veron (Tay) that day…we’ve been through a lot of family issues and I’m very protective over her.”
Asked to respond to multiple comments online that the punishment should have been harsher, Chow said, “The punishments that the judge has given to me is not as serious as the four months that I’ve been through. I think these four months is really not easy for me and Veron to face the public and I hope that everybody can give us a chance.”