As cash flew past all around them, the bus passengers could only watch. They were unable to snatch a single note.
On Monday evening, SMRT bus service 966 was on the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) when hundreds of RM50 bills appeared out of nowhere, fluttering in the air.
About 100 passengers were in the packed double-decker bus as it drove through the whirlwind of money without stopping.
Mrs Annie Sim, 50, a clerk, was on board the bus at about 6.10pm when the incident happened.
She said: "It was like the lucky draw thing when you stand in a glass box and grab the money flying all around you, except the money was flying outside."
She said there was a lot of excitement and commotion inside the bus, and some passengers even shouted at the bus driver to stop.
"The bus was packed at that time with the evening crowd, and people started shouting at the bus driver to stop, but he refused," she said.
"At the next bus stop, some of the alighting passengers told the bus driver off, saying if he had stopped, all of us could have got off and grabbed the money."
The notes were strewn across about 50m of the four-lane BKE, leading to chaos and traffic congestion as motorists stopped and scrambled to grab whatever they could.
Mr Billy Cane, 36, a photographer, had just turned from the Seletar Expressway onto the BKE when he noticed the strange scene.
"At first I thought it was fake money or hell notes, but I looked closer and was shocked to see they were RM50 (S$17.80) notes," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"There were a lot of people just stopping to pick them up, putting it straight into their pockets."
The Malaysian also sent TNP a video of the incident, which showed motorcycles and vans parked by the side of the road as people grabbed the notes off the tarmac.
"A taxi stopped, right in the middle of the road... A construction vehicle also stopped and the workers came out to make a grab for the cash," Mr Cane said. In the video, a motorcyclist can be seen cutting across three lanes just to stop by the side of the road. Close to a dozen people can also be seen bending over again and again to pick the notes.
Mrs Sim, who saw the video yesterday, said it was probably taken long after the money first appeared.
"There was a lot more money before that. The video shows just a very small amount compared to the amount of notes that were first flying around," she said.
Another witness, who wanted to be known only as Mr Liu, 60, who works in the construction business, said: "It seemed like the notes were flying out of a plastic bag that had dropped on the road.
"I did not stop as I was scared, and also worried for the safety of the motorists and the ones who stopped to pick the money."
Mr Cane said he did not pick up any of the money either.
"I didn't dare to pick, because I could get into trouble if it belongs to the authorities or a bank," he said.
"It could also be someone else's hard earned money. Or worse, what if it was illegal or dirty money?"
He added that he also did not want to put himself in danger.
He said: "It's an expressway, and cars move fast. It can be very dangerous to just walk around in the middle of the road like that."
It is not known exactly how much money was strewn on the BKE.
Lawyer James Ow Yong of Kalco Law explained that pocketing the money might be considered an offence.
"If the owner is not known, and no reasonable steps are taken to locate the rightful owner, the 'finder' may still be liable for either dishonest misappropriation of property or fraudulent possession of property."
These offences carry a jail term of at least up to a year, or a fine, or both.
A police spokesman said they do not condone any errant road behaviour that could potentially undermine the safety of roads.
"Our roads are shared by everyone and all motorists should always be aware that they should abide by traffic rules at all times."
This article was first published on August 5, 2015.
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