He went to a debtor's flat last December to recover a loan, and ended up running for his life.
The business relations manager from Double Ace Associates, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chew, told The New Paper yesterday that he was shocked when the debtor's father suddenly ran towards him with an axe.
Mr Chew, a legal debt collector in his 30s, said: "I ran as fast as I could. He could have killed me with the weapon."
Mosaic layer Wong Foo Yu, 53, was fined $3,000 yesterday after pleading guilty to one count of criminal intimidation.
Mr Chew and three other legal debt collectors went to Wong's flat at Block 712, Yishun Avenue 5 at around 11pm on Dec 23 last year to look for his son, Mr Wong Jun Hua.
The salesman, 26, had defaulted on his motorcycle loan for the past four months.
They got into a dispute with the man, a situation that escalated when his father returned home. Wong entered the flat and emerged with an axe.
He then used his hands to damage the windows of his flat and said he would blame it on the debt collectors.
Mr Chew said his team managed to outsmart Wong by recording a video of him damaging the windows.
He added: "His hand was bleeding when he broke the window panes. Suddenly, he ran after us with the axe and we fled."
Wong chased Mr Chew to the staircase landing, and swung the axe at the metal railings to alarm him, causing the axe to break into two.
He then swung the axe handle at Mr Chew, who managed to flee.
Responding to a call from Wong's son, police officers arrived at the scene after the debt collectors had fled downstairs.
In his mitigation, Wong's lawyer, Mr Kertar Singh, told District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim that Mr Wong had bought a motorcycle on hire-purchase in 2011, and his client was the guarantor.
Pleading for leniency, he said the debt collectors had switched off the main electrical switch to the flat, plunging it into darkness.
They also hurled vulgarities at the Wongs, he said.
In an interview with TNP, Mr Chew denied turning off the switch, but admitted that they had "exchanged harsh words" with Wong.
Until now, Wong's son has only paid back only half of his $2,000 loan, he added.
"The debtor is known to be problematic. That's why four of us went down that night. In most cases, only two of us would go to debtors' homes," he said.
"We will be civilised if the debtors are civilised. But the family was not. I have a challenging job and not many people may like us. But somebody has to do it."
Wong told Judge Hamidah that he could pay only $1,000 of his fine yesterday. He has to pay the rest by Dec 3.
For criminal intimidation, he could have been jailed up to two years and fined.
This article was first published on November 20, 2014.
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