Friday, December 05, 2008

Stupid EastCoastLife!?

"Don't give her money! Don't give her money! She's a con artist!"

Then they turned towards the woman and spat on her. The toddler woke up crying, due to the commotion. The woman tried to pacify him by patting his back and holding him closer.

I was stunned by the behaviour of these two fashionably-dressed young ladies. Some passers-by also started scolding the woman as they walked past her. A couple even called me 'Stupid'. I was speechless. I could not understand why these people were behaving this way when all I did was to give a starving woman some money.

I looked at the poor woman. Her look was unfathomable. She continued to eat the rice from the garbage bin, nonchalant. I chased after the two young ladies.

I asked them why they called the woman a con artist. They explained that the woman has been doing the same thing everyday for several months. They told me to look closely at the rice in the bin. They're clean because she placed them in the garbage bin.

When word spread to my office that I gave the con artist money, the Chinese staff started to tease me. One guy even pretended to eat from my dustbin. I did give him money..... in a white envelope and told him never to step in my company again.

Whenever I think of the woman eating from the garbage bin, I wonder what makes a human being resort to that? Poverty?

It's degrading. It's unthinkable. And the poor toddler. Will he grow up to be a better con artist?
*shake head*

What was EastCoastLife thinking?
My Chinese staff and friends blamed me and foreign visitors for 'encouraging more beggars' on their streets. As a human being, it is really not comfortable to see my own kind suffering.

I like what our Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament. "Help first. We can check on their background later. They can only cheat us once." I keep that in mind.


  1. Wah I did not expect her to be a fake, that is terrible! Who do ppl do these things I wonder... :(

    And what's up with ur colleague pretending to eat from the dustbin la? ;)

  2. Oh my! I feel bad for the toddler, he's not suppose to be in that situation though. I hope he will grow up as a good person not a con artist.

  3. By the way, i forgot to mention, bless your kind heart that even though the lady is a con artist you still gave her money. You are one good person.

  4. Yes, maybe a con artist, but what sort of a life does she lead to feel that is the only way to earn money? I would need to be very hard up anyway, to want to eat anything from the garbage, even if I'd put it there myself.

  5. ECL,
    She's a con artist??? Maybe she drove a Porsche... did you look around if there's any Ferrari or Porsche park there?:P

  6. And so, this is the part 2 that I was looking forward to. I figured it was a good gesture on your end and surely I didn't expect this to be a con job. Did she really have to resort to this?

  7. In today's Singapore, to bring along a child to beg with oneself can be considered a form of child abuse, as it is subjecting the child to moral harm.

    I wish people could be more kind to children.

  8. You have been kind. I just wish that there were more kind and honest souls like you around in this world.

  9. Wah.. the things pple do for money.. choy!!

  10. Oh I am going nuts with my connection. I hope this comment goes through.

    Remember when I told you that Walter and I and many truckers always feed homeless people while we are on the road?

    Well there's always one thing that everyone looks at. We look at their shoes.

    That's right it's a big give away to professional beggars.

    If they have on sneakers or shoes that cost as much or more than what you have on then we don;t give them money or food.

    Also many times they will have their dogs with them. and when those dogs are fat and obviously well fed then you also know you have a fake.

    So look at the clothes and the shoes for a hint.

    But I am still not laughing at you.

    You have a wonderful heart and I would expect you to do something like this.


  11. ahjie
    Regardless of con or not, what you did is right
    We want to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do.
    Not because of anything else.

    Proud of you

    (your staff has nothing better to do?)

  12. Mariuca,
    I felt stupid when I was told she's a con artist. But on second thoughts, I feel that even if she's a con artist, she is abandoning her pride to do this. It takes tremendous courage.

    I'm thinking of doing this experiment on our streets. What reactions would we get? :P

  13. Hi Utah Mommy,
    I feel sad for the toddler, for him to grow up in this environment. He's exposed to the weather (it was quite chilly as it is approaching Winter) and to all sorts of abuses from the passers-by. Very unhealthy.

  14. Utah Mommy,
    It is heart-rendering to see another human being eating from the garbage bin. It made me think hard about how blessed I am. I try never to waste food.

  15. A.
    That's my initial thought. She must be really desperate to resort to this.

    I wonder if I would do that if I'm penniless and starving. I would still have my pride.

  16. Kok,
    That's what my staff told me.

    She could be living in a bigger house and eating in restaurants in her province.

    I don't want to know. I just gave her money once. If she's smart, she would know she cannot be a con artist forever.

  17. Ed,
    I'm kept wondering these days.

    Actually I made another discovery about her. That would be in my post next week. haha.... 高潮迭起!

    In China, there are so much drama in a simple everyday affair. I'm constantly amazed and surprised.

    The Chinese are so smart. We are not their match. Even beggars are so professional and play psychological games with the general public.

    I can't blame my Chinese staff and friends for being sceptical and wary of such people.

  18. oceanskies,
    You will weep when you see the disabled children in dirty clothings begging outside train stations.

    They are controlled by the triads and they were abducted and made disable. I am in no position to help them. The images of these kids haunt me every night.

  19. oceanskies,
    I wish there are more kind souls out there too.

    In this dog eat dog world, people have lost their humanness. Some behave worst than beasts.

    I hope more people will try to make a difference in the lives of our society. No matter how small each of us could contribute.

    Let there always be a glimmer of light.

    Don't let Darkness take over.

  20. LadyJava,
    Yes, Money is the root of all evil.
    I see the devil in some people when it comes to money and power.

  21. I think I would weep in my heart to see sadness. I suppose each of us can contribute in small yet important ways to make this world a little better.

    Wishing you a day of hope.

  22. Shinade,
    I'm glad I'm still human. haha....

    Friends and family know I'm very helpful.... to the point of being a busybody. My son is taking after me. haha....

    My hubby and I give in our own subtle ways to society. We help whenever we could and seldom judge those people who need help.

    Most people have pride, it is hard to put down our pride to beg or ask for help. We always think of the good of such people. Like I said, they can cheat us only that much.

  23. yenjai,
    Whatever I do, I have never measure it against the yardstick of others. I do what I think is right. I don't care if people laugh at me. God knows me better.

    Money can be earned back. There are certain things that can never be replaced. I don't want to have regrets in my life, especially when it concerns lives of another human.

    (My staff is too free, so give him long leave to go home fry cuttlefish. hahaha..... )

  24. oceanskies,
    It would be best for you to stay in Singapore. You would see a lot of sadness and hopelessness in many underdeveloped countries. :P

  25. Ecl,

    I would have done the same thing if I were in your shoes otherwise my conscience will prick me. Never mind if she was a con-artist. The fact that she could rummage and salvage the garbage bin for food is enough to melt my heart!

  26. We have com artists here also, and many people who drink and drug away their money. But we also have many mentally ill people who will only eat out of the garbage--I've seen people pick up cigarette butts on the street and smoke them.

    In this case, I'm with you. What a poor lesson this woman is giving her child.

  27. hmm I think this is a typical story. I have seen a lot of cons here too. Once when I was in India, in the train, there was this man walking with his HANDS- so, obviously we felt pity for his condition and gave him some money. To my surprise, at the next stop, he hopped down with his LEGS! LOL They could be so natural, you have no reasons to doubt them. Since then, I don't really trust these people anymore. Besides, why beg when they can actually do some job and earn money?

  28. ECL you really fire the staff that try eating at your dustbin?!

    One time I saw a handicap chinese (not singaporean for sure) begging and I was wondering how on earth did he come to sg with his dirty dressing? Who allow him in?

    It a good way to earn nonetheless as there are difference in currency rates and some had donated to him. rolleyes man...

  29. WOWIE!!! Serious ECL?? If anyone can pull it off, it will be you, this will be an interesting experiment!

  30. ECL...
    even if kena cheated, a few cents only..i dun deny that there's a couple of begging syndicate even in singapore and i hesitate giving to them-don't want to encourage that kind of behavior...worse come to worse, a few cents nia.

    Have a g8 weekend, ECL

  31. Ecl

    You said that you have made another discovery about her. I can't wait to know what it is.

  32. I wrote about something like the woman-beggar you were talking about. There are so many like that here in the Philippines. You can find these moms with babies who will beg for your mercy so you will give them money. I was even duped by a mom with 2 kids telling me that they cannot go back home because they lost all their money to robbers.

    I really wish the government of different countries where there are beggars like that woman will do something about them. I pity the babies they are using to con people.

  33. I used to give money to beggars, not any more. I've learnt that these beggars do not deserve to be given money. There are better ways to earn money and begging is not the way to do it! So maybe I'm a bit cold hearted now, but I've learnt my lesson. Yeah, maybe you should do an experiment and pretend to beg in the streets. Would be interesting to know the treatment you would receive! : )

  34. What makes one person so much different from another? Who are we to judge another person and how they lead their lives? To me, those people who spat on the woman are no better than the next person.

    We give what we think and can afford. Imagine if everyone in Singapore stopped giving to charities because they are afraid to be cheated by another scandal? The genuinely poor will only suffer.

  35. We have organized bands here from former communist Eastern countries, one guy (with golden chains) drops women with small children at shopping malls to beg for money. I never give money but I buy food, I even bought socks and little shoes for a 1 year old baby which was barefoot in winter. The mother I guess was happy but she certainly got into serious troubles with her "pimp" who wants money and no baby shoes !

  36. con artist or not, you did what should be done. Some people are so numb, they lack pain in their lives that they do not feel the pain of others. I hate the rich who could not feel how it is to be poor. I mean I haven't experienced begging on the streets but when i see beggars I feel their suffering.

  37. stanley,
    You're right about the conscience thing.

    The first time I saw her and didn't help, I was constantly haunted by the image of her eating from the garbage bin. It was tortuous. I had to find her.

  38. Gran,
    I'm concerned about he toddler being exposed to all that was happening around him... day in day out.

    He would mature very quickly and learn the wrong things from the adults he sees everyday. Poor kid.

  39. Farah Deen,
    I have seen all types of con artists, some I can tell, some I can't. I cannot differentiate between the genuine and fakes sometimes. I prefer to trust my instinct.

    I would rather be called an idiot and hope that I'm helping a less fortunate person than be praised smart but am numbed to the pains and sufferings of my fellow men.

  40. LEon,
    Don't you think the guy is overboard with his teasing? No big no small.
    No lah. Joking .... I deleted the sentence. hehe....

    There are quite a number of foreign beggars who come in on 14-day or 30-day social visit pass (depend on which country he/she comes from) to beg or prostitute in Singapore.

    They don't have 'beggar' or 'prostitute' written on their foreheads, so they could easily come in if they have the necessary documents as Singapore welcomes all foreigners.

    It's strange that nobody bothers to report such foreign beggars when they are approached, even grassroot leaders. hmmmm....

  41. Mariuca,
    haha.... I'll try to convince a few bloggers to help me on this project. Let's hope I don't get arrested. :P

  42. Mariuca first commentator for this post! Happy weekend!

  43. articulator,
    The beggar syndicates, prostitute syndicates, gambling syndicates are able to survive in Singapore because nobody dares to report them.

    Oh.... even if report them, the relevant authority also dun care. I tried, spent time to go down to the police station and make statements.... in the end also they don't take action. Waste my time and energy. Some more kena called kaypoh.

    Now I'll just take photos, take video and put on the net. :D

  44. stanley,
    A week later, I found out another sad fact about this woman. Like the scenes of a movie!

  45. sasha,
    I saw many such disturbing scenes when I was in the Philippines too. My Filipino friends told me not to give them money.

    The beggars are healthy people with hands and legs. The women usually have small kids in tow. My friends said some of the kids are borrowed. I was like : Huh?

    Beggars/ con artists now go regional or international. It is a lucrative business. :)

  46. foongpc,
    I'm pissed that these unscrupulous people prey on the compassion of others. It gives the genuine hardship cases a bad name.

    We cannot tell the genuine from the fakes.

    For the sake of blogging, ECL can sacrifice a little. haha....

  47. Darkspore,
    How shocked I was at that reaction of the young, educated ladies and those who screamed hatred at her!

    It's numbness to the sad plight of others. That is a scary thing to happen in a society.

    I guess when people are exposed to too many frauds, they tend to behave irrationally.

    My Chinese friends are hardworking and honest citizens, they feel disgusted with people who are parasites. There are so many beggars on their streets. And there are the thieves and robbers too. Security is a problem in certain countries.

    To judge others is easy, to judging ourselves is hard.

  48. Gattina,
    Oh yes. These syndicates are horrible. The terrible things they will do to weak women and kids. They ought to be shot.

    I feel sad for those who are in the control of such gangs.

  49. pastilan,
    Being numb to every thing around us is scary. People don't care what happens to one another. It will become a cold and loveless world.

    There are rich people who are charitable.... there are the rich who not only won't help those less fortunate, they steal and rob from them.

    I know of many billionaires who don't pay income taxes, spend on luxury items, keep lovers, gamble....

  50. its pretty hard to differentiate which is the real and fake beggars. but i will still donate to the elders..

  51. I grew up in a rural town not too far from Seattle. Two very different worlds that are very close together. I think people who grow up around this become immune to it. I personally know that a lot of them are scammers, but at the same time, many are not. Besides, as you said, what might lead them to it?
    I am not here to judge. What are we if we lose human compassion.
    I don't give to every beggar on the street, but I don't scold those who do, and I do make it a point to occasionally help them out, even if I do know they are just going to blow it on booze. After all, that could be me some day.

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  53. I also feel horrible when I see people who are less fortunate...I however do not give to all beggars coz like what others say- some are scammers. I rather give them food than money...

  54. ECL, you are generous out of the goodness in your heart. But it is not a good example that woman is showing to her child. Yes, you said, would the kid be a better scammer that his mom?

  55. I´m amazed...professional beggars?
    Here in my country we´re used to see gypsies begging with kids in their arms. I also see some men searching in the garbage, late at night, but I never thought people would do this professionally. I feel pity for the kids.
    Your behavior only shows you´re a sensitive and kind person.
    Good weekend, Mizé.

  56. it's hard to judge honestly. i also have a soft spot. btw that guy who pretended eating from your dustbin...he deserved that white envelope! serves him right!

  57. i wonder what happened to my other comment here?