Michael Chua's Chronicles

Been there, done that, took the photographs, bought the T-shirt.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Trishaw Uncle Gets Bullied by Ang-Moh Tourists

Make a video of it and post it online
By Liew Hanqing and Tan May Ping

The New Paper
November 03, 2007

HE watched the online video over and over again.

Each time, it broke his heart to see his father having to beg for the fare he had earned.

Mr Sam Lee, 33, son of Mr Lee Shee Lam, the 67-year-old trishaw rider who was filmed being taunted and cheated by three UK tourists, said he also watched the video repeatedly to make sure his father was not physically or verbally abused.

In the video, his father is seen pedalling slowly, struggling under the weight of the three men.

When they alight, they take a taxi without paying Mr Lee.

He said they had earlier agreed on a price of $15 for the ride from Clarke Quay.

After the video was uploaded on YouTube last week, local netizens lashed out at the way the trishaw rider was treated.

The younger Mr Lee, an IT engineer, found out about the video when a cousin called him yesterday to tell him his father had made front page news.

Said the cousin, who did not want to be named: 'I felt it was an insult to my uncle, so I informed my cousin.'

Mr Lee, his sister, Miss P L Lee, and their cousin spoke to The New Paper last night together with the father.

Said the son: 'I read the article in The New Paper, then went online to look at the video - I just wanted to make sure my Dad was not harmed.'

The part that angered him the most was towards the end when his father was seen stretching out his hand and asking the men for his fare.

'It really kicked in at that portion. I felt very irritated because it made him look like a beggar,' he said.

He added that he had considered taking legal action if he found his father had been hurt or verbally abused by the tourists.

But now he hopes the tourists would accede to three requests.

First, Mr Lee's children want a formal apology.

'We want it written, not by email or a posting on the Internet,' said the younger Mr Lee.

Two, they want the men to pay the amount due to their father.

Said Mr Lee: 'It's only right for them to pay up. My Dad is just trying to make an honest living.

'He did not cheat or swindle them. He provided them an honest service, and he should be paid for it.'

Finally, they want the men to take a video of themselves carrying any three old folks and to post it on YouTube.

The older Mr Lee, however, said he doesn't expect much.

'It's a small matter - it is only a small amount of money,' he said in Cantonese.

Mr Lee said he was approached yesterday by two passers-by who gave him about $10 each.

'They said they recognised me from the Internet and newspapers,' he said.

He also spent about two hours speaking to reporters yesterday for both print and TV.

'Spending all this time talking to reporters is making me lose money,' he said, laughing.

His children give him and his wife a small allowance every month. However, his son said it is 'not enough' to give them a comfortable life.

The younger Mr Lee declined to reveal his income and how much money he gives his parents.

He said: 'We tried to tell him to find a lighter job, but my father has always enjoyed his job as a trishaw rider.

'He enjoys having the ability to work and be independent.'

Their mother, he added, hoped her husband would get justice and the attention would die down.

Mr Lee added that he has a good relationship with his parents, and the family makes it a point to meet at least once a month at his parents' home for dinner.

Miss Lee, 31, a store manager, said she did not feel good about what had happened to her father.

'Somehow, it also reflects something about us,' she added.

The younger Mr Lee said he was surprised at the online furore.

He said: 'It is madness. I can tell there's a lot of concern over what happened - and I would like to thank the public for expressing their concern.'

However, he was shocked by some of the crude comments posted in response to the video and on the YouTube profile of Mr Bo Davis, 26, one of the tourists who posted the original video.

Mr Davis later removed the video and posted an online apology for being 'disrespectful to the elderly'.

But netizens still flooded Mr Davis's profile with angry comments, often laden with expletives.

Said the younger Mr Lee: 'All we are asking for is a proper apology, and for my Dad to get back the fare he deserves. Then we can all move on.'

He has also read posts on the Internet of people wanting to band together to raise money for his father.

'We want to thank everyone. We may not be well-off but we can provide for our father,' he said.