Chow Pai (臭派)The Chinatown Bully Meets His Match


Chow Pai (臭派) The Chinatown Bully Meets His Match


Mr. Tong Seng Mun meeting a visitor in his old shop at Pagoda Street,



Chow Pai (臭派), the Chinatown Bully Meets His Match

Background : (A) In the 1960’s ,Chow Pai, the son of a drinks and desert stall vendor who operated a stall  selling to the patrons of Majestic Theatre, the commuters of pirate taxis and bus terminals at Park Road and shoppers at the former People’s Park . He was a spoilt kid and good for nothing trouble maker. With money from his father, Chow Pai could afford not to work even into his adult life.  His father also had some triad connections. Bolstered by that, Chow Pai bullied and intimidated many residents and businesses  in Chinatown with his handful of supporters/small brothers (小弟)。 His victims suffered in silence partly out of fear and to avoid further trouble from him.

(B)Part of Chinatown was then controlled by the 08 Xiao San Hong (小三红) gang of which Chow Pai was associated with. What was little known was that within the triad gang, there was an informal hierarchy system with the same group. The gang lower in the hierarchy had to respect and pay homage to  the ones higher up the hierarchy. In the case of the 08 Xiao San Hong gang,  the Chinatown gang had to pay respect to the Telok Ayer Basin/Lau Pa Sat and Craig Road gangs.

Tong Seng Mun (TSM), the owner of Chop Wah On,  while not a member of any triad gang himself, was a good friend of the Headmen of both  the Telok Ayer Basin/Lau Pa Sat and Craig Road gangs.

One afternoon in 1970’s, Chow Pai out of sheer mischief and boredom, decided to block up the rear door of Chop Wah On with discarded  carton boxes and set them on fire. He did it  to amuse himself and as an act of bravado to show off to his 小弟 his “power”. He knocked on the  back door and waited to see how the occupants will react on seeing the pile of burning carton boxes.

TSM came out of the toilet at the rear of the shop when he heard somebody knocking on the back door. He unlocked the door and a pile of  burning  cartons nearly fell on him. He pushed the pile aside to see what was happening at the back lane. He saw Chow Pai sending in front of the pile of burning  carton boxes, clapping and laughing.  TSM asked Chow Pai angrily and totally unamused, “You did this ?”.  Chow Pai exclaimed : “So fun orr?”. “See smoke everywhere”. “Big fire”.

TSM grabbed a wooden pole and swung it at Chow Pai. It missed hitting him. Chow Pai ran forward and taunted TSM to chase after him. They raced from the back lane of Pagoda Street across New Bridge Road and towards Park Road where Chow Pai’s father’s stall was. Before Chow Pai could reach the stall, he slipped and fell. TSM caught up with him and whacked him hard several time,  with the pole he had in hand. Chow Pai shouted for his father who on hearing rushed from his dessert stall for help.

Chow Pai’s father on seeing his son lying  on the ground , black and blue from the whacking, he was furious. He uttered a series of words in threats.  “ Hei, how can you beat my son ?” “Who the hell are you?” “Don’t you know me ?” “ I will get my brothers to teach you a lesson” etc etc.

TSM : “Oh, so you are Chow Pai’s father ?” “Shame on you to have a useless bloke and trouble maker as a son”. “You don’t know how to discipline your son”. “ Get your brothers to teach me a lesson ?” “Tell them to talk to Kian Tong of Craig Road first to find out who am I”. Turning to Chow Pai, he said, “ If I see you again I will whack you again. See what you can do”. TSM picked up the wooden pole and walked back to his shop.

Later in the day, at a shophouse along Craig Road.

Chow Pai : Here, this is the house. The Craig Road people are here.  Let’s go in to ask .

Chow Pai’s Father : “ Excuse me, is Kian Tong  in ?”

“Yes, I am Kian Tong.” “Who are you?”

“Oh, I am Chow Pai’s father from Chinatown.  Earlier in the day, Ah Tong of Pagoda Street beat up my son Chow Pai. “

“Yah I know what happened. Ah Tong told me about it. Your son deserved to be beaten. Don’t you know Ah Tong is our old and trusted  friend. Tell your stupid son not to ever trouble him again. You are lucky he didn’t get your son  arrested and put inside (…. Meaning prison)”.

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