Speeding Ferrari crash & Minister Shanmugam’s kind empathy


SINGAPORE – The daughter of taxi driver Cheng Teck Hock – who was killed in a high-speed crash involving a Ferrari – will have her school fees taken care of should she qualify for university, while her family will receive “all necessary assistance”, including legal assistance, said Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

Mr Shanmugam, who is the Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC – where Mr Cheng’s family resides – gave this assurance yesterday when he attended the wake for Mr Cheng at Block 306, Canberra Road.

He said Mr Cheng’s daughter, Stephanie, 21, who recently graduated from a polytechnic, need not give up her hopes of going to university to work and support the family.

Mr Cheng, 52, had been the family’s sole breadwinner.

Mr Shanmugam said: “Education is not an issue here and as long as she qualifies for university, we will make sure it will be taken care of.”

As for the long-term needs of the family, such as their outstanding payment of their five-room HDB flat, Mr Shanmugam said that “a package will be put together” with help from the constituency’s welfare fund, NTUC, Mr Cheng’s employer ComfortDelGro, voluntary welfare organisations and well-wishers.

Details of the help that will be given have not been discussed as the family has called for time to grieve, he added.

Mr Cheng died after a crash early on Saturday morning involving a Ferrari, his taxi and a motorcycle. The Ferrari driver, Mr Ma Chi, was killed, as was Mr Cheng’s passenger, Ms Shigemi Ito.

Mr Ma’s passenger, an unknown Chinese woman, and motorcyclist Muhammad Najib Ghazali, 25, are still in hospital.

Mr Cheng had been a taxi driver for 10 years. He leaves behind his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Source and photo from Today

In today’s political climate, it’s quite normal to see the MP rushing down to his constituent’s residence in the event of a tragedy. The MP offering his condolences and whatever assistance to his constituent’s sudden tragedy as in this case the sole bread winner, taxi driver Mr Cheng where he was tragically killed by a speeding Farrari is the ‘new normal.’

I didn’t really bother to read the finer details cuz by now almost everyone would have heard of the shocking news and even seen the scary video footage accident on You Tube or Razor TV. It’s been making its rounds via email and Whatsapp!

But what struck me was Mr Shanmugam’s prominent photo shot where he was seen carrying joss sticks to pay his respects to the deceased taxi driver Mr Cheng who lived in his ward. That was the best picture I have ever seen since that tragic accident with all the twisted, mangled wreckage.

In a typical traditional Chinese funeral whenever someone comes up to the altar to light joss sticks to pay respects to the deceased, the children or grandchildren of the deceased shall kneel on the side of the altar with heads bowed. This is to return the respect to that person lighting the joss sticks. It’s a reciprocal process.

Minister Shanmugam is a non-Chinese. Yet he carried the joss sticks to pay his respects to the deceased who lived in his constituency. It shows his sincerity and he has gone all the way to offer his condolences to the family members beyond words. His action speaks volume of him. This action will forever etch on my mind and I’m sure many others’ minds also.

That poignant image of him certainly strikes a chord with the Chinese community especially those older Chinese. It’s the talk topic of those elderly folks in the coffee shops. Never in recent memory have they come across an Indian Cabinet Minister lighting joss sticks paying respects to a commoner’s funeral.

Minister Shanmugam’s magnanimous gesture not only won over the deceased family’s 心 or hearts but many other countless heartlander Chinese. Whatever previous mistakes or perceived arrogance on his part if any; with this kind gesture are all wiped out and obliterated. This is how a shrewd politician should conduct himself. No need high IQ but just plain common sense and common empathy. Not every Minister or MP could or would do that.

Remember the case where it was rumoured that a Minister refusing to shake hand with fishmongers in the wet market or immediately washing the hand after that? There was a video played over and over again on another ex-Minister’s half hearted hand shaking touch-and-go with a stall holder?

I am very much impressed with our honorable Minister Shanmugam’s kind empathy. Three cheers to his excellency!


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
This entry was posted in Langgar. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Speeding Ferrari crash & Minister Shanmugam’s kind empathy

  1. Nothing can bring back the dead. All we can do now is collateral damage control. Very kind gesture from a minister that almost nobody liked just a moment ago.

  2. patriot says:

    Minister Shanmugan could indeed be one of the most kind and sympathetic
    cabinet member in Sin. Other than what You have written here, he was very
    caring of Nyanmar(Burma) too, he spent time during the Parliamentary Debate
    to tell Singaporeans the need to help Nyanmar. Well and good me must say;
    just that me feels that Singaporeans have much more pressing issues for him
    to attend to in Parliament Debates. There are plenty of time outside of
    Parliament Debates, for him to talk about foreign relationship with other nations.

    Sympathy and concern need to be prioritized and given properly, otherwise
    people, like me, will feel them odd and not appropriate for the occasion and or

    Btw, many MIWs have donned ethnic garbs to participate in religious occasions
    and consecration ceremonies. Chinese MIWs in Malay traditional costume, Indian
    headgear, Malay MIWs attending ceremony and dinner at Chinese religious
    celebration and of course Non-Muslim Indian MIWs go everywhere to be VIPs.

    It is no big deal lah Gintai.

    Me, an atheist, always try to adhere to the traditional customs of our fellow
    Singaporeans, BUT, never sees the need to dress myself to suit their ethnicities.

    For show or sincerity, me leaves it to the individuals.


  3. Pingback: Daily SG: 17 May 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  4. Linda says:

    Nice touch from Mr K Shanmugam. I’m not his fan but he made a great gesture and move which is appreciated.

  5. leewsdaniel says:

    Not a big deal. It is a courtest gesture that is common sense. Just like a person would take off their shoes before entering a mosque.

  6. Will says:

    It is politically savy to pull off something like this now, for a mere spark could burn a whole forest down. While this stunt is at least palatable for now, the unhappiness that a lot of S’poreans feel now could have been avoided if the likes of Shanmugam & gang had been more intune with ground feel. Get off from that ivory tower and put your ears to the ground. What is the point of a good photo shoot when the family has to cope with such a loss.

  7. z says:

    Agree with above, don’t see the big deal. You yourself said it’s normal for MP to rush down to such events in current climate. Once you are there, whatever your race or religion, it is only normal to follow the family’s practices.

  8. A picture can paint a thousand words. This is one of them.
    Don’t mean to undermine Mr Shanmugam’s sincerity – only his constituents and people who knows him know.
    Sometimes, we have to be mindful of pictures like this. If it had been a Minister of other religious faith (here I’m assuming Mr Shanmugam’s faith is Hindu which does not differ much in practices to those of Toaist or Buddhist faith) that picture may invite the ire of the other religious faith.
    In other words, don’t write off a public figure too quickly if he appears to be not following some cultural practices, neither should we over-credit someone for doing the right things.

  9. Din says:

    Be very careful what you wish for….this can be called a “populist” politician and can lead to purely populist policies! The assistance is promised in such a tragic accident as it has become a very hot topic in S’pore and overseas….more importantly, let’s see if foreign drivers who have obtained licences from certain countries that are known to have dubious standards are made to go through the Singapore driving test, etc to imbue them with with right driving habits and practices on Singapore roads.

    watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcsZxUDWCXg

  10. crythebelovedcountry says:

    I am a cynic. If there is no BE looming, would we still see Mr Shan?

  11. patriot says:

    Will our MIWs visit families whose kins have committed suicides to find out the reason and cause of the tragedy and offer help?????


  12. Randy Soh says:

    He is a poltician and the ruling party are scared of losing power. All this new found love for the working class is due to the possibility of losses in elections. Hence his sudden interest in chinese customs.

  13. Gu says:

    No need to put too much into this. Ah Sham is only doing another typical PAPaya
    wayang. He has been instructed to do this because of the ongoing by-election in
    Hougang, to help Desperate Desmond win a few more votes so that he need not
    face the ignominy of being the 1st PAPaya to lose his election deposit.

    Nuttin’ more nuttin’ less.

  14. Warrior says:

    Things are never what they seem…ALWAYS remember that.

    We should learn to base our ideas, thoughts and especially make decisions on a strong foundation of values of freedom, equality, justice, honesty, fairness, etc rather than the forms of cultural, religious practices and norms. And help to educate people around us to view events from the standpoint of these values to bring us forward to a better world.

  15. kam says:

    I think it is not a big deal about this minister (indian religion) taking up joss sticks. He is a minister in a multiracial country, come on.
    I do believe it is a good gesture to attend the wake but then again it is a fair game to gain political points. (sorry mr minister, you cannot win)
    I do think something must be done to penalise the ferrari driver (even if he is dead), and that the victims should be able to sue them for compensation. Sadly i think this is difficult and also no sane lawyer or minister will take this up.

  16. Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Speaking from my experience. I have witnessed the younger generation amongst my frens and relatives refusing to carry joss sticks whilst participating in their own grandparents’ or parents’ funeral rites. They cite different religious faiths. But holding joss sticks is not really a religious thing. It’s more of a custom and ritual. These ppl are misplaced in their thoughts.

    That’s why I mentioned old folks in the heartlands strike a chord with the Minister’s gesture. You notice I didn’t mention the younger generation. Of course any MP could just rush down to offer a slew of aid to the unfortunate family but do all of them did what our Minister did? I did cite 2 examples of ex-Ministers (I didnt want to name them) on my article whom paled when compared to this Minister. We need to delve and examine deeper. We shld not take it at face value.

    If the MP did what he just did, ppl say there no big deal or some may view it as publicity stunt etc. Question is – Is whether the Minister obliged to do that sort of thing even he has promised aid and assistance to the family. Some even condemn him on the Terms and Conditions attached. To put it in perspective, if you qualify for university but can’t afford the fees, help shall be given. If you don’t quality for admission how can you expect help to gain entry just becuz of this tragedy?

    I’m a fair and serious man. I see and report what I feel. It’s no big deal to us commoners but a fantastic gesture on the part of the Cabinet Minister. Whether his motive is to gain votes or cheap publicity stunt is subjective. I’ll leave it to the individual. Sometimes the manner we criticize others reflect on our own maturity and thinking. Some even go farther to suggest our upbringing in life.

    When I was invited to a Sikh wedding at the Towner Rd temple, I had to wear an instant turban or a piece of scarf on my head before I was allowed in. That is their custom and ritual which we need to abide if we participate in the event.

    The Minister need not carry any joss sticks. He could just go there ie to the wake to offer some words of condolences and reassure them of help. He could then just leave the place. But he chose to pay his respects to the deceased. Is it not a touching gesture? Didn’t he go the extra mile all the way?

    I would say that every MP or politician will surely have its own motive and agenda to garner support. But that is another issue. The hidden agenda selfish motive vs his genuine sincerity and concern is debatable.

    If you just read my previous post here you will notice that WP MP Low TK did exactly that. For more than 20 yrs, he ‘nurtured’ and cultivated the residents’ support but not reported in the media off course. 

    Like I mentioned on that previous post, the next of kin or children of the deceased are obligated or compelled to vote for him cuz he paid his respects on their parents’ altar. They will remember that gesture that tugged at their hearts forever. Is it not political motive or agenda? Or is it his genuine sincerity and concern for his Hougang residents? That is also debatable.

    “Nothing can bring back the dead. All we can do now is collateral damage control. Very kind gesture from a minister that almost nobody liked just a moment ago.”

    Thank you Dr Toothfully for sharing the same point of view with me.

    You will notice that I did not discuss about nature of the tragic accident. I do not wish to pass judgement or comments on the driver etc. I only focus on that single touching gesture by our own Minister paying his respects on the deceased.

    The honorable Minister also didn’t issue any statement on the accident except to announce a package of assistance for the unfortunate family. That also reflects his sensible handling of the case which has created so much divisiveness amongst locals and foreigners. Imagine if he were to say or comment something it will definitely lead to more smoke and fire which we do not wish to see it happening. We’ve got to move on! The dead can’t be brought back!

    I will not respond to any more comment. I have said my piece on this topic. Thank you all for your participation. 

  17. Anonymous says:

    call me a cynic……
    tis is wat i call damage control.

  18. Gu says:

    After all is said and done what Ah Sham has done somehow reminds me of what Desmond is doing in Hougang, ie provide free Teochew porridge and hearing aids as well as free legal service. And I’ve said it before, those are vote-buying tactics.

  19. fish 'n' chips says:

    you leave me no choice but to slow you down and take you back to where it all began. sham and his gang were the party responsible for leaving the door wide open for this ferrari killer to set foot on this land of the setting sun. and btw how did this guy and his family and his extended family settle down here. pray tell me. sham and his gang have to come clean on this and they have alot to answer to the bereaved family and the people of singapore for all that happened. this prc guy performed his one and only finale and we ended up with the untimely and tragic deaths of 2 innocent individuals; a singaporean and a japanese plus 2 seriously injured; a singaporean and a prc. fast forward to the wake of our fellow singaporean, we have sham and his gang paying respect to the deceased by hijacking the wake; making himself the star of the wake with this powerful image and focus on him holding the joss incense in both hands offering respect. for a momentary moment, i was also mind tricked buying into being sympathetic toward sham and his gang for all their previous oppresive policies. cleared my head and told myself no, enough is enough. the wake is all and only about our fellow singaporean whose sudden demise left behind a very heart broken and pain strickened wife, a daughter and 2 sons. all sympathies and condolences should be offered to them, the bereaved family, no one else but them. so here we have the door opener, the killer and the victim who perished. next we have the door opener offering condolences to the deceased (door opener praying very hard with the joss incense in hands for no one to remember that he was the door opener) in the presence of the bereaved family and the media. the well rehearsed media waiting for the correct place, time, position, angle, lighting to capture that one powerful media shot (a picture tells a thousand words) screaming out the message loud. finally we have you hailing him honourable. well done, very well done. score pap 1 : singapore 0

  20. Chew says:

    I concur with Gintai on the ‘joss sticks’ issue. Is a touchy and sensitive issue and has caused many chinese families anguish during bereavement, particularly among siblings/relatives with different religions. So I can relate to that.
    Having said that, K Shanmugam gesture is above his duty and he has redeemed himself, possibly some goodwill for the family per se.
    But after the incident, is politics-as-usual. I will continue to judge him/party based on their policies, and engagement – nothing more.

  21. Ransom Soh says:

    Where is Shanmugam getting the money to help this family? I prefer he reduce our defense expenditure and use the savings from this reduction to finance universal health care for the elderly in our society.

Comments are closed.