Singapore Wakes Up to Sim Lim Square Frauds

Move Follows China’s Advisory to its Nationals

Kind Gesture from Locals to Cheated Vietnamese Tourist

Singapore has suddenly woken up to the reality of wayward retailers in the country. All it took for it to act was a travel advisory from China urging its citizens to exercise caution when buying electronics goods in Singapore.

It is not as if the administration has been unaware of how shops at the Sim Lim Square have been indulging in fraud. No meaningful action was taken when shoppers were being ripped apart.

Now with China taking action in what is a downright disgrace for Singapore, counter measures are beginning to unfold.

Wake-up Call: When the latest instance of fraud against a Vietnamese tourist by a Sim Lim shop, Mobile Air, was reported earlier this week, Singaporeans rallied to raise funds to repay the tourist (the Government was watching!). The shop is now closed and the owner is said to be absconding.

Since its opening 27 years ago, Sim Lim Square has been notorious for its fraudulent activities, including software piracy that had been curbed because multinational vendors, including Microsoft, had mounted a vigorous campaign against it.

Excuses: When companies are cheated, there is quick action. But when individual shoppers are hounded, excuses are trotted out (“there are rental agreements between landlords and tenants that prevent stern action against recalcitrant shops”, etc, etc)

Nonetheless, the mall management is now seeking changes to laws so they can throw errant tenants out. But eviction is not a complete remedy. They commit frauds, so why cannot they be arrested and convicted for their crimes?

Gesture from Singaporeans: Yesterday, before the tourist boarded a flight back to Vietnam the local good samaritans met him with an iPhone 6 gift but he politely declined, accepting only some local food items. All he wanted was his loss of $550 to be made good and that was met by a good-hearted Singaporean businessman, per newspaper reports today.

The tourist is said to be a factory worked earning an equivalent of just $200 a month in Vietnam. Still, he chose not to accept the $1600 gift.

It was a victory for both Singapore, thanks to kind locals, and Vietnam whose citizen demonstrated gentleness amid the rough, foul tactics of a greedy retailer.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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