Elderly man forgives Toa Payoh hawker centre couple

He said there is no need to apologise in person.

By Belmont Lay | August 13, 2017

In an exclusive interview with Lianhe Wanbao, the elderly man who was shoved from behind and intimidated by a couple at the Toa Payoh Lorong 8 hawker centre, has finally broken his silence.

The 76-year-old, who has maintained a dignified silence until now, said he accepts the couple’s apology and forgives them.

He also said there is no need to meet in person to apologise.

Backlash is enough punishment

Speaking to the Wanbao reporter in English, the elderly man said there is no point meeting the couple face-to-face.

He also said the backlash the couple received is enough and everyone should just forgive and forget.

His comments comes after the couple expressed their desire to apologise to the elderly man in person, following their sentencing on Friday.

He clarified he was not in hiding

Since the incident happened, the elderly man refused to appear publicly, only addressing the matter via his daughter on Facebook.

The Wanbao reporter visited the elderly man’s residence a number of times, and finally met him.

It was also the first time he agreed to be interviewed.

Smaller in real life

The elderly man was described in the report as looking smaller in real life than in video, and has a head full of white hair.

He spoke to reporters in English. He also clarified that he is not shunning anyone, just that his time at home is not fixed as he is often out and about.

He said: “I am aware the couple are looking to apologise to me in person. I accept their apology. And it has come to this and I hope everyone can let this go, and not pursue the matter anymore.”

The elderly man also said he is grateful for all the support from his family and the public. He also felt the sanctions the couple experienced, both formal and informal, are sufficient.

The elderly man said: “The couple has gone through a painful lesson, let us all learn from it. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Most importantly, is to learn from the mistakes and not harp on them.”

His initial reaction

The old man also said he did not intend to pursue the matter after it happened. The only reason it caught the attention of the authorities was because of the outrage it caused.

He also said he did not inform his family initially, as he didn’t want them to be worried. It was only after the video exploded online, did he go to the police with his statement.

He said: “I’m already of such old age, where do I have the strength to challenge the youngsters about right and wrong?”

The elderly man said he used to be a sportsman and embodies the sportsmanship mentality. As long as one party apologises for any transgression, both sides will move on.

The elderly man also said: “If the couple apologised to me earlier, I would have accepted and moved on and all would have ended there and then. But the moment the incident went public, it was out of my hands.”

Hawker centre a favourite haunt

The elderly man said: “I am just a nobody, I’m like everyone else, I just wanted to sit down and have a quiet meal.”

He also said he used to use tissue packets to reserve a seat at the hawker centre, but found that this method was not always effective.

His reserved seat would still be taken by someone else sometimes, and after a while, he decided not to do it any more.

He also said he dines at the Toa Payoh Lorong 8 hawker centre as he works nearby.

Couple harassed repeatedly the past four months

The Wanbao article also highlighted the various forms of harassment the couple experienced in the last four months after the video first made its rounds online in April.

For example, people pasted news cut-outs on the lamp post outside their house.

Some would go to their house and tuition centre to harass them.

The couple minimised their outdoor exposure by going out less frequently and avoided peak hours. This meant they went to lunch at 3pm.

In an interview in the couple’s lawyer’s office, they talked about how severe their days were after the incident. Another person form the tuition centre was at the interview as well.

The couple also became afraid of taking calls because strangers called to harass them.

And when they went out people would purposely point them out loudly as the “Toa Payoh couple”.

There are also people who go to the tuition centre to badmouth the couple when parents come to pick their kids.

The couple said they refrained from calling the police as they did not want to complicate things.

About the case

The Toa Payoh hawker centre couple were fined in court on Aug. 11, 2017.

Tutor Tay Puay Leng, 38, was fined S$1,200 for using abusive words with the intent to cause alarm.

Chow Chuin Yee, 45, a tuition centre director, was fined S$1,500 for using criminal force on an elderly man by using his body to forcefully barge into him in the back.

The offence the couple committed took place at about 8.35pm at the Toa Payoh Lorong 8 hawker centre on April 21. The pair were caught on video intimidating an elderly man in the food centre.

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Top photo via Lianhe Wanbao Facebook

About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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