Distinguished diplomat Tommy Koh and noted actor-director Ivan Heng are among thousands of Singaporeans who were struck by a trending photo of a luxury car coming dangerously close to a frail elderly cardboard collector.
The photo was published on social media on Monday (7 Dec) by Facebook user Vladimir Guevarra who spotted the hunched senior citizen collecting cardboard when he was cycling along Eng Hoon Street in Tiong Bahru, sometime last week. Mr Guevarra saw a Porsche SUV reversing towards the elderly lady who was obliviously arranging her stack of cardboard.
The driver thankfully managed to stop before he collided into the woman but Mr Guevarra was disturbed by how the elderly lady was invisible to the Porsche driver:
The netizen wrote on Facebook: “What’s wrong with these people? What got me was this juxtaposition – an old, bent woman, and a rich man in a luxury car, oblivious of her presence. Like she’s invisible.”
Revealing that he approached the woman to check on her and found that she looked very tired, he added: “I was stunned over how big her stack was, and I wondered how much – or how little – money she’d get for re-selling that, presumably, to a recycling shop.”
Sharing that he gave the senior citizen the cash in his pocket, Mr Guevarra said that the lady looked “too old” and shouldn’t be doing what she was doing.
The photo Mr Guevarra posted went viral on social media, drawing 1,500 likes and 1,000 shares on Facebook.
One of those who shared the image was human rights NGO MARUAH founder, Braema Mathi. Ms Mathi’s repost caught the eye of Prof Koh and Mr Heng who felt that the photo reflected inequality in Singapore.
Prof Koh wrote in a comment, “This is what inequality in Singapore looks like”, while Mr Heng replied, “My thoughts exactly.”
Both Prof Koh and Mr Heng have a reputation for speaking their mind. Dr Koh who serves as Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore while Mr Heng is the founder of theatre company W!LD RICE.