Family feud turns into CNY brawl

SINGAPORE - She irked her countrymen by making a video to proclaim why she is not proud to be a Singaporean.

Now South Korean reality show finalist Stephanie Koh has made the news again after a catfight with her aunt, Miss Nicole Chong, on Chinese New Year last Friday - over a bedroom.

Both said they were hurt in the brawl, with Miss Koh, 21, saying she was bitten and scratched on her left arm and chest and Miss Chong, 33, saying she had cuts and bruises on her neck, shoulders and face.

Miss Chong made a police report the next day.

December

Their spat started in December after Miss Koh, a bartender who is also a YouTube singer, took over an unused bedroom in her grandmother's four-room flat. Before that, the aunt and niece had shared another bedroom with the grandma.

Miss Koh had done so because she did not want to share a room with the other two.

She told The New Paper yesterday: "I didn't want it to be uncomfortable and squeeze with everyone. I'm not fussy and I don't mind sleeping anywhere."

But Miss Chong, a piano teacher, was unhappy because she claimed the unused bedroom was hers all along.

Said Miss Koh: "Aunt just leaves her clothes in her old bedroom. It wasn't used for anything else."

She did not know exactly why her aunt was reluctant to give up the room but she believed it could have something to do with her relationship with a married man who has five children.

On Dec 11 and 12, she received several text messages from Miss Chong asking her to vacate the room as she wanted to use it as a study for an upcoming piano exam. She also suggested that Miss Koh should rent her own place.

 

Miss Koh was upset about having to move out and replied the next day, listing 10 points in which she criticised Miss Chong and called her names like dumbass as well as vulgar expletives.

Asked why she had not exercised restraint, she said: "I admit that I had no tact. I'm not one that hides what I truly think. The whole family opposes her relationship, but I'm the one who is vocal about it."

Her aunt replied and asked her to move out. That morning, while Miss Koh was out, she put her niece's belongings into cardboard boxes and stacked them outside on the corridor.

Miss Koh said her aunt poured water into the boxes, drenching her clothes and belongings, including a Polaroid camera, an iPod and a laptop.

She also flooded her text mailbox with repeated messages that read "I bet you don't even know what snap means".

"This is clear evidence that she is crazy," said Miss Koh while pointing at the text messages.

They did not communicate until they met last Friday for Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year

At about 3.30pm, Miss Koh, her parents and her two younger siblings visited her grandmother.

Miss Chong refused to come out of her room, playing loud music to drown out the noise from outside.

An hour later, Miss Koh said, her aunt sent a rude text message to her mother daring her to "tear my door (down) and come and scold me".

"That made me upset... If you say these things about my family, I will get angry," she said.

She and her younger sister began singing and laughing. Miss Chong banged loudly on her door, telling them to shut up.

Miss Chong then opened her door and splashed tea on Miss Koh's legs.

"I was enraged. I walked towards her door and told her to just go back to her room and leave us alone," said Miss Koh. "I was quite vulgar too."

She pushed against the room's door to prevent Miss Chong from closing it as she wanted her to hear what she had to say.

The fight

But her aunt lunged at her, Miss Koh claimed.

This caused them to slip and fall as the floor was wet. She fell on her back while her aunt landed on top of her.

She tried to hold her away by pulling her aunt's hair with her right hand. Miss Chong bit her left arm twice and scratched her chest with her fingernails.

"I felt a stinging pain, but at that point I was just really angry. I did not hit her back. She was still my senior after all," Miss Koh said.

Eventually, her father stepped in and pulled Miss Chong away. Miss Koh said her parents were furious that she had been attacked.

They left the flat immediately, but did not make a police report as she did not want to blow up the matter.

'I didn't want her to have her own room because...'

Miss Nicole Chong said her niece had begun converting the disputed bedroom without consulting her.

She told The New Paper yesterday: "I lived in the unit for around 20 years while Stephanie was only there for around a month.

"That was actually my bedroom, but I shared a bed with my mother (in the latter's room) so that I could save on the electricity bill."

She also did not want her niece to have a room of her own, claiming Miss Koh's mother had entrusted her to look after her niece.

"She smokes a lot in the flat and tends to bring guys back, and too much privacy can be bad," she said.

"I offered to share a room with her, but she did not accept that option."

She denied that she was a mistress and said that her boyfriend was divorced with children.

She said she had broken up with him over personal issues.

Miss Chong said: "She's trying to attack me with my personal life. My relationship has nothing to do with my quarrel with her.

"In fact, I loved her a lot and took care of her well-being. That's why it hurt me so much to receive such a reply from her."

Miss Chong said she broke down and cried for two days straight after she read Miss Koh's message.

She said that her repeated messages were due to the disappointment she felt towards her niece.

She admitted pouring water into Miss Koh's belongings as she had recalled a previous incident when her niece's Australian boyfriend kicked her out in the same manner.

On Chinese New Year, she had locked herself in her room as she wanted to avoid Miss Koh and her family.

But she heard her niece mocking her from outside, so she shouted at them to keep quiet.

Said Miss Chong: "They challenged me, saying that I dare not come out of the room."

So she splashed water from her water bottle on the floor to chase them away.

She said this caused Miss Koh to threaten to kill her. Her niece then pushed the door open before she could close it and started punching and kicking her.

"I bit her to get her to stop, but she just wouldn't. She kept pulling my hair and a lot of it was torn off. For around three minutes, I was attacked."

After the fight, she went to Changi General Hospital to get a check-up.

"I couldn't turn my head or lift my hands up for two days, and I was given three days' medical leave for my injuries," she said.

Niece versus aunt

From 11.43pm on Dec 11 to 9.32am the next day, Miss Stephanie Koh's aunt sent her 38 text messages explaining why she did not want Miss Koh to move to her old room.

Miss Nicole Chong said she needed the room to practise for a piano examination and asked Miss Koh to rent a place elsewhere.

Miss Koh did not reply until 1.37pm.

Miss Koh: So I just got my WhatsApp back because my phone was screwed up all night and all day today. So I only have a few things to say...

1. You're a dumbass for moving out and moving back in.

2. You're stupid to think that your boyfriend will get you that condo. Because I'm pretty sure you guys will break up eventually...

3. If I didn't clear the room out, you wouldn't even have considered moving back into your own room.

4. I never asked you to move out of your room. And if I didn't clear it out, you would have never used it in the first place. So stop giving me all that "oh I was gonna move back into my room anyways" bullsh**.

5. You're 32 years old and you're still living with your mom and chasing your 21-year-old niece out and asking her to find a place to stay when she's in a worse situation than you. So that shows how great your personality is, and shame on you.

(Miss Koh goes on to list five more points, including calling her aunt expletives)

Miss Chong: Pls move (out) tonight.

Miss Chong: Move.

(Several angry messages later...)

Miss Koh: I've already sent the conversation to mummy.

Miss Koh: Live updates really.

Miss Koh: Lol.

Miss Chong: Me too.

Miss Koh: Yea. Good then (: wanna know what she's telling me?

Miss Koh: (Quoting her mum) "What happened? Pls don't mess things up. Ok. You're a lot smarter than her."

Miss Koh: Ouhhhh snap. (A phrase to indicate that an insult was given.)

Miss Koh: And I bet you don't even know what snap means -.-

Miss Chong copies Miss Koh's last message (left) and sends it repeatedly on Dec 12, and resumes doing so on Dec 24, flooding her niece's messaging application.

ngjunsen@sph.com.sg