Extortion In Chinatown / Civilian-Police Action To Get Rid of Bad Hats



(Background : The late Mr.Tong Seng Mun(TSM) aka Tong Chye Yew  was the father of the writer. He operated a  medicated oil and balm shop, Chop Wah On華 安 at No. 67,  Pagoda Street. It is now located at No. 34, Upper Cross Street, Singapore 058340.  He had many friends who were in the Police Force as well as with the triads.  Ah Phui was his cousin who had a stationery shop at Smith Street. When Ah Phui struck 4-D lottery, he diversified his business into buttons and haberdashery .



Ah Phui :” Cousin Brother Ah Yew you must help me. I am very frightened for my family and myself. They threatened to beat up my wife and me and smash up our shop”.

TSM :” You look all pale and white. What’s troubling you? Tell me and I will see how I can help”.

Ah Phui :” As you know recently I got a small fortune from 4-D lottery. Somehow words got out. Awhile ago two gangsters came to my shop. They demanded that I pay them extortion money  or they will give us hell”. I asked them how much they wanted. They said $1,000. I said I didn’t have that much and offered them $50. One of them grabbed my shirt collar and pushed me against the showcase.

TSM:” Did he tell you anything else ?”

Ah Phui : “ Yes. He told me he and his “brothers” will come to my shop again tomorrow afternoon. They demanded that I  have $1,000 ready for them. As you know, I won only $2,000 from lottery and had spent most of it on starting a new line of business for my wife by  renting the other half of shop space. I really cannot afford to give  them $1,000”.

TSM:” Sit down first. Have a cup of tea to calm down . I will call my friend to see if he can help”.


TSM :” Hello. Is this Central Police Station ? Can you please put me to Inspector Naidu?”

Operator :” Yes Sir. May I know who is that calling ?”

TSM:”  Oh, Tong, a personal friend of Naidu”.

Operator :” Hold on Sir, while I connect you to his office”.

Inspector Naidu : “ Naidu speaking. Who’s that please ?”

TSM :” Hi Naidu. Long time no see. Tong here. Need some help from you. Can we speak?”

Inspector Naidu* : “ Hi Tong. It’s been a long time, my friend. How have you been keeping ? Yes, what can I do for you ?”

TSM :” Hi Naidu. I have a cousin who runs a small shop in Chinatown a few streets from mine. He is now with me. Said a group of gangsters is demanding $1,000 extortion money from him. They want him to pay up by tomorrow or they will give him and his family hell”.

Inspector Naidu :” Wow! Daring erh. You know who are these guys ?’

TSM :” Probably some chaps from 08 gang in Chinatown. Please help my cousin”.

Inspector Naidu :” Sure. No problem. Incidentally since my two detective staff have just come back from their beat I will have them go over to your shop to see you in about 20 minutes. They will walk over from Central to your shop at Pagoda Street”.

TSM : “ Thanks Naidu. Will call you again to arrange lunch to catch up”.


20 minutes later:


Detective Sgt Lee : “Excuse me, are you Mr. Tong ? I am Detective Sergeant Lee from Central and this is my colleague, Detective Corporal Chan”.

TSM :” Yes, I am Tong. Please take a seat. Can I offer you a coffee or Green Spot Orange “

Detective Sgt Lee :” Mr. Tong, Anything will do. Thanks.  Boss told us to come over to see you. Said you needed some help to deal with some “pai kia (bad hats/gangsters)”.

TSM :” Yes. Thanks for coming over. This is my cousin, Ah Phui. He has a shop at Smith Street. This morning two 08 chaps wanted  to extort $1,000 from him. Threatened that they will beat him and his wife  up  if he does not pay them $1,000. . And smash up their shop”.

Detective Sgt Lee :” Wah, so fierce ah!. Let’s see who will be fiercer. Don’t worry Ah Phui. What time will they be coming to your shop tomorrow ? I will be there. When they come, offer to pay them $60 with six marked $10 notes. See what they say. You signal me by scratching your left ear.  I will come into your shop at that point of time. Leave the rest to me and my colleagues”.


Detective Sgt Lee : “Corporal Chan, you and two other guys will lay an ambush outside Ah Phui’s shop. One of you pretend to be a road sweeper. Two of you will wait in an unmarked car outside the shop. I will report this case to Boss  when we get back to Central. It is going to be exciting. “


The next day around the appointed time :   A few gangsters strutted into Ah Phui’s shop.


Tan Ngan/One-Eyed ( Gangster No. 1) :” Heh. Where’s the money ?”

Hakka Jai/Hakka Kidi: ( Gangster No. 2) : “Quick ! Quick ! Don’t waste our time. Money ! $1,000. Now!”.

Ah Phui (trembling with fear)”, Errh…. Tai Gor (大哥/ Big Brother) ) please give us some chances. We are only small business people trying to earn a small living”.

Tan Ngan (Banged his fist on the show case) : “Shut up ! Don’t pretend. You giving or not? Just say so”.

Hakka Jai (Grabbed Ah Phui’s hand and twisted it): “You want to be funny ? You think we play play only ?”

Mrs. Ah Phui : “Please don’t hurt my husband. It is very painful”.

Hakka Jai :  “Pain erh ? Pay money . No pain. Pay or not ?”

Ah Phui : Okay , Okay. Please let go first. Here. Here’s $60. All that we have. Please take it and go away. Leave us alone. (Scratching his left ear to signal Sgt Chan who was loitering outside the shop)

Tan Ngan (grabbed the $60):” You very daring, erh. Insult us with $60. Must get you to see blood and broken bones first. Hakka Jai , show him we mean business”.


Just then, Detective Sgt Chan walked in:


Det Sgt Chan : “Excuse me, if $60 is not enough. Is this enough ?” ( He slapped Tan Ngan hard  in the face with his Warrant Card).

Tan Ngan (pale and in shock to see Det Sgt who had arrested him previously) :“Erh, No lah. Just joking with my friend only lah. Ah Sir (Hong Kong/Cantonese way to address a Police Officer) , don’t be mistaken. Sorry. Sorry.”


Meanwhile, Hakka Jai, sensing things were not right. Tried to make a dash out of the shop. Detective Sgt Lee who was masquerading as a road sweeper and pretending to sweep the road, tripped Hakka Jai in his path. He was sent  sprawling next to the drain. The two policemen in the unmarked Police car jumped out and physically pinned Hakka Jai down.


When Tan Ngan recovered from his shock, crestfallen, he tried to back track out of the shop.

Sgt Chan :” Don’t move!  You hero erh? You so fierce meh ? Just got out two months ago. Now you wash your backside and prepare for Outram** (Prison) again.


Sgt Chan :”Lee, call  Charge Room, Central to send Land Rover to bring these two fellows to Lock-Up. Charge them for extortion.  When transport arrives, you go with them . I will take statements from Complainant and his wife before I get back to the station. We will have to brief Boss and get his instructions on how to deal with these two guys”.

From then on, no gangster dared to extort from Ah Phui again, knowing that he has help to deal with them .if necessary.


  • Appointed Director of Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau a number of years later. Understand he had passed away a few years ago..

**There was a prison called Outram Prison which was  sited where the former Outram Park was (now  demolished to make way for a new teaching hospital being developed there).


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