Bus passengers in Singapore found an unusual sight during an afternoon commute last week when a woman began crying on cue and asking them for money.
Begging is not only largely frowned upon in the country, but also illegal, with a 2-year jail time or fine of 3,000 Singapore dollars ($2,240) awaiting people who are caught under the Destitute Persons Act.
Passengers of service 197 heading from Jurong towards Bedok Bus Interchange found the scene quite peculiar.
Local singer-songwriter Kohji Toh, who was among those on board the bus, told the Straits Times that the particular woman was seated in front of him.
Toh narrated that the unidentified woman, who appeared to be in her 40s, suddenly turned around and asked him for some money.
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“The auntie approached me and asked me for money,” said the artist. “She said she had no money to take the bus, but I told her she was already on a bus.”
“She then told me that she had no money for food and needed to see a doctor. I advised her to go to the Institute of Mental Health, where she would be able to owe bills and get free meals.”
The woman eventually got the hint and moved on to a different target. With very little success, she continued asking other passengers for money.
Video clips of the woman uploaded by Toh on his Facebook page became widely shared, earning over a hundred reactions.
In the video description, Toh wrote: “This young Aunty begging skill have taken to the next level Cry and beg for money in a bus once gotten the money she will alight and find a new target!”
One video even showed the woman grasping the arm of a male passenger, but still failed to get anything. She then went to try her luck with another commuter.
According to the Straits Times, the woman left after getting $5.
In Singapore, concerned citizens who want to help the needy are urged by the government to donate only to registered charity groups.