Two Rich Women

…wore T-shirts to court to receive the fines handed to them for “harassing a public servant”, which included the demand that the victim—a police officer—“talk to rich people nicely”

Money talks, and it often does. Two women made sure money rebukes too. In court yesterday, they pleaded guilty to verbally abusing—”harassing a public servant”, according to news reports—an auxiliary police officer who caught the pair smoking outside the designated area in front of Lucky Plaza. Many women do no like to be told that they have done something socially improper, even repugnant, but these two did not merely dislike. Caught in the act by the arms of the law is understandably infuriating, but rather than just expressing frustration at the misfortune, these self-proclaimed moneybags—one 49 and the other 50—took it out on the appointee of the National Environment Agency to enforce the no-smoking rule by snubbing and reproaching her.

When they were asked for their particulars so that a summons could be issued, they remonstrated by showing their utter disdain for the police officer, even profiling her as poorly-paid and impecunious. “Your salary how much?” the younger woman taunt-asked in proud Singlish. “One thousand only one month, I think.” It is not known how the officer responded, if at all, but one of the women seemed even more ruffled, and chided, “talk to rich people nicely, you’re a poor girl”. Still unsatisfied, she added what sounded like a dastardly curse: “I tell you, you careful walk, fall down… don’t bang to the car” and then further taunting, and adding an expletive, “So what, pay only what. I got money, cheebye”. The older woman, who didn’t want to miss out on the action, chipped in with “You shut up and ask for IC” and “You poor forever, you know or not?”

The incident occurred a year ago, while the pandemic was raging and there was yet talk about “living with an endemic”. Smokers who light up whenever and wherever they wish tend to see themselves as a different breed: manifesting concerns only for themselves, COVID be damned. While this ongoing pandemic has repeatedly shown us that many individuals prioritise their own needs above the interests, even health, of others (those not holding a cigarette as excuse to go mask-less do the same with a cup of bubble tea or a bag of curry puffs), the expression of this selfishness and the simultaneous disparaging of those who are only doing their job must never be condoned. Or, ignored.

Derogatory words were then followed by action taken to humiliate

The deliberate put-down did not end. The women, now seemingly high on the abuse, continued. The older one, in full look-down mode, went on: “crazy girl, better go back and hug your pillow and cry”, adding that the much younger officer’s salary alone would not be sufficient for the abuser to buy a pillow. It is unclear why the women thought the victim to be near destitute, despite a salaried job. As if there were limitations to the use of Singlish to scold, she hit out with a Cantonese insult mo ga gao (無家教 or no family upbringing) and, in Mandarin, shen jing bing (神经病 or mental case). Derogatory words were then followed by action taken to humiliate. The younger woman whipped out a S$1,000 note and shook it in front of the officer, telling the working girl to say no more and accept the money. The episode was captured on the police officer’s body-cam.

In photos published in the media, the two women were seen leaving the court complex wearing T-shirts. According to Lianhe Wanbao (联合晚报), they “wore famous brands and gold chains to court (穿名牌戴金链出庭)”. The younger of the two, who had her hair tied to each side of her head in limp pigtails, as if inspired by manga characters (Izumi Akazawa of Rough Sketch, perhaps?), had on a fitted, white Under Armour T-shirt, with massive black logo and logotype on the chest, crowned at the crew neck with a chunky gold chain and a medallion that would not be out of place in a hip-hop artiste’s get-up. The other reportedly wore the Gucci, evidenced by a “large logo”, according to the evening paper. Other images clearly showed her in an oversized ivory top with the blue logo of Paramount Pictures (the top is listed on Matches Fashion for US$650), above which a gold chain—less coarse than her friend’s—laid, and carrying what appears to be a white Valentino Supervee crossbody bag (on, it is available for S$3,680). We are unable to independently verify if any of the items spotted are original, but we can see that they were picked for visual impact.

We live in an economically unequal world. Some people make sure you know that by telling you in your face that they are wealthier than you. Or, by wearing clothes that announce their financial ability in splashing on, say, T-shirts that usually retail for above S$500 (the cheapest women’s Gucci T-shirt presently listed on their website is US$490, or S$658). Perhaps we might soon find a slogan tee with that quotation “talk nicely to rich people” on Shopee, for an ironically more agreeable price? Wealth differential—large or small—between you and any stranger you meet anywhere is always there. Allowing money to put you above others is way lower than the hem of your logo-ed, look-at-my-wealth T-shirts.

Collage: Just So

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