Pay, or these seats are taken
WHAT was meant to be a free getai show ended up costing residents, after a man tied up the chairs and started selling them off.
When MyPaper went down to the show site - an empty walkway outside Vista Point in Woodlands - at 2pm on Friday, it saw a man and woman who looked to be in their 60s, using raffia string to bind plastic seats together.
They had bound about 40 of the 80 seats available, peppering another 20 with all sorts of items like umbrellas, cardboard boxes and plastic bottles.
From 6pm, the man was seen blocking people who had arrived to view the three-hour show. He let them pass only after they gave him a token of appreciation: In one case, a packet of bee hoon and, in another, a pack of green tea.
But residents, who told MyPaper that the man has struck before, said that he also collects up to $5 per seat.
Mrs Yvonne Tan, a retiree who lives across from the mall, was at the site at 10am to reserve good seats for the 7.30pm performance. "I tried to put my umbrella on the seat but got chased away by (the pair)," said the 65-year-old.
Mr Chan, a 62-year-old retiree who did not want to give his full name, said it was not the first time such a thing has happened.
"Usually, $2 to $5 will be enough for a seat. If not, you can give food or drinks as well," he said, adding that residents shouldn't encourage this behaviour by buying the seats from them.
A tip-off was sent to MyPaper by a Woodlands resident. Mr Tan, who did not give his full name, first heard of this from his wife, who wanted to reserve seats to the show but was chased away. He said: "The same pair were there last Saturday as well."
When MyPaper tried to approach the man, who was wearing a gold bracelet and watch, the woman accompanying him started shouting, denying all knowledge of monetary transactions.
The Vista Point Merchants Association, which organised the show, said that they have heard of such cases and are investigating the matter.
When approached at the event, Mr Tan Peng Koon, president of the association, said he was at the event that night specifically to look into the issue.
The association, he said, organises two to three such shows a year free-of-charge for the residents.
"We organised this event for the residents, not for (the pair) to earn money, so it is important that we put a stop to this," he said. "We spent almost $10,000 this year on these shows and it's a shame if residents go away unhappy because of these avoidable factors."