During those days when I was bumming around Chiangmai, planning to settle down one day, I came across numerous lovely young ladies (some in school uniforms) who were waiting to be spotted and kept by some sugar daddy. They become their mia noi or minor wife aka mistress or sugar baby. What surprised me as young man from a sheltered place like Singapore, was the apparent lack of shame attached to being a mistress. Not only do the girls not bother to hide their relationships with married men twice their age, they even trumpet their “affiliations” and flaunt their wealth. The institution is well recognised and almost as well-accepted as homosexuality in Thailand.
We’ll learn a few more Thai words in a moment. Let’s get a little closer to home for now.
28-year-old Audrey Chen Ying Fang was a freelance model and cabin attendant when I first met her. She had quite a few tattoos and an interesting life story to boot. That’s why I decided to feature her in my book Leaving the Pain Behind.
Not long after the completion of my project in 2014, Audrey Chen started her relationship with businessman Lim Hong Liang, a married man. He hired Audrey as an administrative executive in his logistics company. He paid her a monthly salary of about S$2,000, even though she did not actually show up for work.
The most “impressive” gift to her was probably a Mercedes-Benz C180 with a licence plate bearing her birth year. He also rented a condominium unit at The Parc and renovated it into a “Hello Kitty-themed condo” for her. Her household expenses were all paid for and of course, the obligatory credit cards were hers to use. She even enjoyed the services of a maid. In 2016, Audrey took part in the Miss Mermaid beauty pageant and won.
What happened next is a plot as old as time. Audrey Chen’s sugar daddy Mr Lim Hong Liang, found out that she had been dating a banquet waiter by the name of Joshua Koh Kian Yong, 35. Joshua is also a married man.
Mr Lim was understandably unhappy, but things played out like a TV drama. The boss commissioned hitmen to carry out an attack on Mr Koh. He paid the hitmen S$5,000 to break Joshua’s arms and legs. His accomplice Ong Hock Chye suggested slashing Mr Koh’s face with a penknife.
The first attack on Mr Joshua Koh took place on Apr 8, 2016. He was in a bedroom at Audrey Chen’s The Parc condominium (paid for by Mr Lim) when two men appeared at the entrance of the bedroom. One of them was Lim’s older son Jing He, while the other was Lim’s nephew Ron Lim De Mai.
Ron attacked Joshua, punching and kicking him for 10 to 15 minutes, telling him: “I was sent here to kill you.”
After beating him up, fracturing his nose in the process, the assailants tooks pictures of the victim with their phones. Ron told Audrey (who was unhurt) to take the victim to hospital.
When Audrey returned to her apartment after sending Joshua to hospital, she discovered that all her branded bags and watches had been removed. As she did not know the attackers, she claimed that it was only then that she realised that Lim must have found out about her two-timing him.
Later that night, she received three Mandarin voice messages from Mr Lim in China. He said that he had found out from someone that Ms Chen had “brought Joshua back home to sleep”.
“What you did, was it right or wrong? You bring a man back to sleep when I go overseas. What you did was it right or wrong? I provided you (with) everything,”
After this attack, Audrey and Joshua began staying in hotels. Later that same month on Apr 30, 2016, Joshua was assaulted again, this time at a Thai mookata eatery in Little India. At 1am, someone punched someone walked up to Joshua and punched him in the head.
It was a gang of Malay youths. Joshua tried to flee but he was attacked by another man and felt a sharp pain in his arm. Audrey told the court that she saw her lover’s mouth “gaping open with blood” and called the police.
This time, the hospital found lacerations over his lips caused by a single slash, as well as a laceration over his right tricep and bruises on his face and head. A doctor testified in court that there was a scar over his mouth that was likely to remain permanent, strengthening the prosecution’s case.
Back in the early days in Thailand, waitresses were earning about 3,000 baht a month. It was sufficient to survive in those days, but dining at restaurants or even going to the movies would have been luxuries. The sugar daddy phenomenon arose almost “naturally”. Mature men with deep pockets or even those without deep pockets were supporting young ladies who wanted some icing on their cake.
Although this phenomenon is a lot less common in Singapore where women have a lot more job opportunities as well as salaries that are more realistic, women like Audrey are rare compared to the flocks of mia nois in Thailand. Bosses hiring hitmen to get even here in Singapore is definitely quite a new plot to me even though it’s commonplace in Thailand.
This episode helped me to understand Audrey a little better. She mentioned about not judging people. Yes, you should certainly not judge people from their tattoos (my main motivation for writing Leaving the Pain Behind). Just because someone has tattoos doesn’t mean he’s a mean gangster. Someone who has had plastic surgery is also not necessarily a shallow person. A politician who has committed adultery can still make a great president.
However, it does not mean that you keep waiting for someone who has the habit of playing people out. It does not mean that you give a very important task to someone who is not known to be disciplined and responsible. It is fair to make judgement and predict future behaviour based on something related to that person’s character. For instance, if you were Hillary, would you leave your husband alone with some fat 19-year-old intern?
As an acquaintance, I would still hesitate to see Audrey’s behaviour in this whole saga as an indication of her ability to be honest and compassionate. However, it does strongly indicate her capricious attitude towards relationships.
On the day of the verdict 21 May 2019, Lim Hong Liang was sentenced to 6 years’ jail. Lim’s co-accused, 48-year-old mover Ong Hock Chye – was sentenced to 5.5 years’ jail and 6 strokes of the cane. 5 other men had already been dealt with, receiving sentences of up to 14-and-a-half years’ jail, and three of them receiving caning.
Channel News Asia calls it a “love triangle trial”. To me, it’s hard to say whether there is true love from all the 3 corners. Both men had paid for their transgressions. I doubt Audrey and Joshua will live happily ever after.
This update comes courtesy of a message I received from the victim in the story – Mr Joshua Koh Kian Yong. He declared that his relationship with Audrey is still going strong and accused me of “judging” that they won’t live happily ever after. I’ve added some explanation to what I mean by judging people (over and under Bill Clinton’s photo). I’m not sure if I should congratulate them (maybe if Joshua has “settled” things with his wife) but we’re nowhere near the end of the story, aren’t we?
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