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Tue, Sep 04, 2012
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Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (and foreign)
by Maureen Koh, Benita Aw Yeong, Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

Mistress. Hostess. Social escort.

These are names Ms Angel Hsu, a Taiwanese, has been called in the five years she has worked and lived in Singapore.

She hates it, even though she's learned to ignore the insults. Sometimes.

"You know, (some of) the men will mentally try to categorise me when we meet for the first time," says Ms Hsu, a business development director for an international headhunting company here.

What she may be called, says the pretty, tall and leggy woman, depends on where she is at that moment.

Ms Hsu, 30, recounts in fluent English how she once confronted a group of "young and rude" people.

She had got out of her BMW convertible at her office carpark in Shenton Way when she heard a woman utter: "Must be someone's mistress."

The woman's friends - three men and another woman - started to laugh in agreement.

It irked Ms Hsu enough for her to walk up to them and say: "You are a bunch of rude people with filthy minds.

"Just because you cannot afford a nice car does not mean others are as incapable."

She takes a sip of her Perrier mineral water, then says with a laugh: "You should've seen their shocked and embarrassed faces."

But Ms Hsu, who has been working here since 2007, admits that "it took a while before I learnt how to respond" to the nasty remarks.

Especially when it takes place in public places or at events.

Which explains why she was indignant to read last Wednesday's newspaper report of how a Taiwanese woman's boyfriend hit a man after he insulted her by asking which KTV lounge she was working in.

The woman works in Taiwan as a financial data planner.

Earlier, the man had also repeatedly described Taiwanese women as "wild and easy".

The Taiwanese woman's boyfriend was fined $5,000 in court for the assault. He had earlier also paid the victim $13,000 for injuries.

Ms Hsu says: "Violence isn't really the right way to deal with the situation, but sometimes, such insults can really piss one off.

"When I go clubbing - and even if I'm with friends - I've had men approaching me to ask how much I charge for an hour or a night."

She stands up, turns a full round, stretches out her hands and asks: "Now, which part of me looks like my body is for sale?

"Just because I'm a foreign woman working here does not mean I'm sleazy and easy."

Mrs Rachel Toh, who owns a nail salon at Pearl's Centre in Chinatown, also has her share of unpleasant experiences.

The Vietnamese national, who married a Singaporean 10 years ago, says the snide remarks fly fast and furious, but she has learnt to ignore them.

The 29-year-old says in fluent Mandarin: "When I'm done for the day at the salon and leave to go home, there will be old men around the area who ask me, 'So early, going home already, ah?'"

She feels that such comments insinuate that she is a prostitute, whose busiest hours are in the evenings.

A cab ride some time ago also left a particularly nasty aftertaste.

"I was with my sister, and we were speaking Vietnamese. After the driver found out where we were from, he asked if we were in Singapore to make money," she recalls.

"He said there are many places here where we can make money without really 'working', like Clarke Quay."

Much as Mrs Toh is enraged by the rude comments, she tries to ignore them as she doesn't want to get into a fight.

Her husband, Mr Francis Toh, 57, who runs matchmaking agency, First Overseas International Matchmaker, says people carry these prejudices with them when hunting for a mate.

"Sometimes, they come into my shop asking how much it is to 'buy' a Vietnamese bride," he says.

"The word 'buy' already implies that these women are products, rather than potential partners."

Fending off unwanted attention or lewd proposals is nothing new for Miss Jessica Syonanta, a Thai-born Singapore permanent resident.

Miss Syonanta, 29, who works as a restaurant manager in a Thai restaurant chain, once dumped a glass of water on a male customer.

She was then working at another Thai restaurant in Golden Mile Complex in Beach Road, also known as Little Thailand.

The petite and attractive woman says in halting English: "The Chinese man was really rude. He gave me a suggestive look when he told me that 'you're wasting your talent here'.

"I asked him what he meant but he just winked at me, and then shrugged his shoulders."

But after the customer called for his bill, he asked Miss Syonanta for her mobile phone number.

"He told me, 'I'm sure what you can earn later (after work hours) - in one night - you can make more than your one week's pay."

She was so angry at the suggestion that she picked up a glass of water on the table and poured it on the customer.

The man muttered "sorry", quickly got up and left the restaurant after he paid for his meal.

Says Miss Syonanta: "At that point, no one could tell me that the customer is always right."

While she still gets the occasional snide remarks at her current workplace, she admits that she avoids going to certain places like Geylang.

"I don't want unnecessary misunderstanding," she says.

Ron (not his real name), who has a Thai wife, agrees that rude remarks directed at his wife come with the location.

For example, when buying food at the regular chicken rice stall in Geylang, Ron observes that men assume she's a streetwalker.

They'd ask her if she wants to make some money.

Ron, 41, who lives in the area, says: "While it's irritating, my wife knows the remarks are harmless. There's no point getting upset.

"But when she's walking in the vicinity with our child, no one disturbs her."

Charles (not his real name), who is married to a Laotian woman, says he can understand why men make such comments to foreign women.

He admits that he, too, makes such assumptions sometimes.

The 41-year-old former civil servant says: "Chances are, I'd have also made the same assumptions when I see a foreign woman in an area known for seedy activities.

"It's human (nature) to stereotype. As natural-born profilers, it helps us to make sense of things around us easily.

"Having said that, if anyone suggests that my wife is a prostitute in my presence, I'd be very upset and God knows what I would do."


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readers' comments
@jameslee, small fly, if yr comments include any slander or defamation i will not hesitate to dig u out and SUE u . Mark my word cause i will find u.
Posted by on Sat, 10 Nov 2012 at 01:51 AM
@jameslee58, i am certainly not jealous at all. I have more cars and own several houses so what do i hv to be jealous about. The article itself is hilarious cos i don't think driving a BMW is such a big deal cos i don't own such an inexpensive car. If u read my comment i am young not old as u said. U must be very stupid not to understand what i am writing about. u are jealous of what i have. But i will tell u to shove it up your ***. And men like u will go for mei mei in slippers cos u know u can't do better. People like me will probably spit on yr face cos u must be one very ugly individual.
Posted by on Sat, 10 Nov 2012 at 01:34 AM
@Small Fly, wonder why u call yourself small fly. Did u butch yourself down there? That is because u are a *****, butch, ba*tard, K&nk, ****.
And yes I am 100% Singaporean. U are really one pathetic loser.
Posted by on Sat, 10 Nov 2012 at 01:23 AM

When looking for wife, cannot ask for discount wan. After he also give you discounted producted like this viet woman who is only 23 yo. elENSLWZ8iz2-0o-Aw8
Posted by maipenrai on Thu, 8 Nov 2012 at 11:55 AM
So I mention your name and say you recommend one got discount or not??? :o :D :D

Posted by Small Fly on Thu, 8 Nov 2012 at 11:46 AM
Uncle Fly, you must go find Mr Francis Toh who runs First Overseas International Matchmaker to help you find a viet wife. But you must not say you want to buy one hor :D
Posted by maipenrai on Thu, 8 Nov 2012 at 11:35 AM
I seriously doubt U r a Singapore ... from your post, U seems more like a wh.ore instead ... :D :D

Posted by Small Fly on Thu, 8 Nov 2012 at 11:23 AM
not all women will get same response from men

from the way comment you seems very angry and jealous and really whine like an old lady ...
i agreed, some woman will not get any invitation from men no matter how she dressed or what she drived, but some girls just do, i for one saw young mei mei in slippers wearing short with no make up walking to mrt, i will just smile at her, wanting to befriend her ...

Posted by jameslee58 on Thu, 8 Nov 2012 at 09:48 AM
I am a Singapore and i am also a millionairess. So of course i have a S class mercedes with a driver who has been with me for 14 years. I am young, beautiful, tall. I also own several luxury cars incl convertibles. I for one have never, never encountered any snide or rude remarks or that i am a mistress etc. That is because i do dress very well and not dress sleazy as perhaps like some people do. People do see the way u carry yourself. I do not cheapen myself at how i dress or go out clubbing etc. There are limits of what i shd or shd not do. People respect u this way. And a BMW convertible is really no big deal. If u drive a limited edition ferrari or a Rolls Royce then it is something else. Actually this article really tickles me cos .....
Posted by on Wed, 7 Nov 2012 at 22:09 PM

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