Misrepresentation By A Suitor In Marriage

  • Chop Wah On in the 1930's.
Tong Chee Leong_0001

-100 Our Founder & Grandfather, Mr. Tong Chee Leong

Misrepresentation By A Suitor In Marriage - 揸数 vs 揸扫把

In Chinatown, during the 1950’s/60’s,  to be working for Eu Yan Sang (余仁生) was considered as very respectable and prestigious. It was somewhat like working for some huge MNC’s like Goldman Sachs or  the Big Four etc. in present days.

Thus many families with daughters of marriageable age would be targeting eligible young men who were working in Eu Yan Sang as prospective sons-in-law as they were considered to be prime “catches”.

Wong Yan Kwai (黄仁贵) was one of the several Guangzhou  clansmen whom our late grandfather bailed out of the St. John’s Island Quarantine Area in earlier years after their arrival in Singapore from China.  As he had a bit of queer behaviour, some friends nicknamed him  黄怪人 (Weird-man Wong). After staying in Chop Wah On for some time, he was recommended a job as a janitor in Eu Yan Sang. In Cantonese he was described as someone who 揸扫把 – i.e. someone who literally  “holds the broom”. Some friends jokingly said that he “揸数“ (“holds the accounts/finance”) in Eu Yan Sang. To be someone who is really  “揸数” it means that person is either Director of Finance/Finance Manager/Financial Controller. Thus, while “揸扫把(janitor)was a lowly menial job,  “揸数” was a senior management position.

After some time on the job, Wong Yan Kwai started courting a pretty young Chinatown lass. To boost his own ego and to enhance the chances of the young lady’s family agreeing to give her hand in marriage, Wong Yan Kwai told the young lady that he  is the “揸数“ in Eu Yan Sang. The young lady told her mother the same. Wow! What a catch! The prospective mother-in-law proudly  started to tell friends and relatives about her daughter’s suitor who  “揸数” in Eu Yan Sang.

One day, the prospective mother-in-law and her daughter decided to drop into Eu Yan Sang to pay a surprise  visit to 黄仁贵先生, the Eu Yan Sang 揸数 人。They were  expecting a grand reception. On the contrary, all the other Eu Yan Sang staff were puzzled and confused because their 揸数was a Mr. Lee (李先生), not 黄仁贵。 In the midst of the confusion, Wong Yan Kwai aka 黄怪人 walked in with his broom and dust pan in hand. Immediately the game was up. The prospective mother-in-law snatched  the broom from Wong Yan Kwai and hit him repeatedly with it for misrepresenting his job designation  to her and her family. Her daughter burst into tears and ran away. Wong Yan Kwai also ran off and did not even  return to Eu Yan Sang to work as he was too ashamed to be found lying being  the Eu Yan Sang 揸数 when in fact he was the janitor揸扫把。Needless to say, that was the end of the courtship.


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