Episodic Thoughts: Ghetto Justice (Episode 6)
Ghetto Justice <怒火街頭>
TVB Series 2011
Cast: Kevin Cheng, Myolie Wu, Sharon Chan, Sam Lee, Eddie Kwan, Mandy Wong, Jazz Lam, Joyce Tang, Shek Shau, and others.
Remarks : This is a watch-as-I-write-from-memory episodic thought (a combination of episode summaries, reviews & critical analysis episode per episode) and therefore please take note that this write-up will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for this particular episode and some creative license was used when recreating certain scenes or dialogue. Please refrain from revealing future SPOILERS in this episode.
Still on …
The Prosecutor vs Tai Ng Ting
The case : The theft at Fuk Yuen Restaurant by former employee, the accused, complaints by Ting Fuk Yuen, owner of Fuk Yuen restaurant
Counsel for the state : The prosecutor, name unknown
Defense : George Mike, Jr.
Entire episode, no Myolie and frankly I didn’t even miss her. This episode belongs to the sidekicks, except poor Chik who is ignored, yet once again.
Morning of the first day of trial, Law Ba asleep (messy, messy even when he is sleeping and snoring) when George bursts in with a gong and started to hit on it and Law Ba woke up startled. George handed him a file and said, “Cousin, the case notes, questions, cases, research all in here. I don’t feel well, having done overnight research, I lost my voice. Can’t speak loud, can’t conduct the case so now it is up to you! I will go see the doctor now, ok?” and zoom he went. Law Ba of course looked quite miffed.
George outside his residence and once again, why is it these men keep losing their cars?
“Where’s papa’s car? Where is it?!” and Chik walked by and George panicking said, “Chik! Papa’s car is missing! Missing!! Report it, call your colleagues to help find it!!” When the car drove right in front (expensive car, didn’t notice the brand though) and it was Teng in it. Teng stared at George, Chik stared at George and George relieved asked, “How come you’re driving the car?” and Law Ba appeared by his side and smilingly said, “How come your voice is ok again?” George was lost for words when I think either Teng or Law Ba said, “It is always like this. Every time on a trial day, you will get sick, and all and avoid the case! When are you going to avoid going to court?” Teng said, “So much so one time I believed you and piggyback you to see a doctor!!” George said, “I can’t help it! I get nervous; I stutter, you all know that! Mrs. Leung….she can’t lose this case!! Cousin, help me!” Law Ba said, “Not this time cousin! This time you will handle the case!” When George looked like he will run, Law Ba said, “Don’t you dare! Everyone, push him into the car, to the court we go!!”
In court, George kept drinking and Law Ba sat next to him, and Mrs. Leung rather nervous in the accused’s seat. First witness was Teng’s father, and the prosecution went through the questions and established a case when it was George and nervously he sat up and though his questions were competent, he made many mistakes, as to the sum, the names, the people, that the court laughed at him, Law Ba looking at him like what the hell and the magistrate (different guy) being incredibly patient. But through his questionings, Teng’s father also stuttered at the end and George established that Mrs. Leung did not steal the $1,500 but rather she gave back the coupons worth the same value and taking her own wages, therefore no theft.
But George didn’t think so and in the men’s toilet, unlike him, he threw a huge tantrum despite Teng and Law Ba said he did remarkably well. George cried, “They saw me as an idiot! I made so many mistakes! The only reason that magistrate didn’t say anything about my mistakes is because to give face to my father, the great retired high ranking judge (I think he mentioned Court of Appeal but I may be wrong), I have embarrassed my papa, I have embarrassed myself! I can’t do this! Cousin, put me out of my misery, please!!!” Law Ba said, “NO! You did well, and you WILL continue to conduct this case whether you want to or not!!”
In court, Law Ba at the lead counsel’s case and reluctantly he stood up to continue his questioning as he looked sheepishly at George. So George must have persuaded Law Ba to take over. Mrs Leung was on the stand and Law Ba asked the questions about the coupons, the salary, the theft, etc. and Mrs. Leung proved herself to be an honest worthy witness as she explained how employees were forced to buy those coupons and to sell, how their salaries were deducted, how she threw back the $1,500 worth of coupons for her salary. Law Ba was very passionate in his questions as he too said, “Imagine, all those coupons, after the expiration date, none can be exchanged! None!!” Probably thinking of the coupons his own clients gave him and Mrs. Leung agreed whilst Mr. Ting shouted, “If I can’t make some profit, how will my business survive!!!!!” Of course, the judge warned him and so he sat down. I believe the prosecution tried to discredit Mrs. Leung, I can’t remember what was asked but Law Ba in return asked Mrs. Leung, “Is it true you qualify for welfare which would have given you more than $10,000 and yet you refused to accept?” She agreed and when asked why she said she wanted to teach her children the value of hard work and earning one’s keep.
My apologies for my fuzzy memory here but I believe the prosecution made some attacks on Mrs. Leung, so much so Mrs. Leung felt terrible and thought she was gonna lose the case. I really can’t remember but I do remember Mrs. Leung was so sad at the center she tried calling her no good husband who didn’t return her call. Teng said, “Oh that is easy!” He called the number and left a message, “Congratulations Mr. Leung! You’re our randomly chosen winner of $150,000-00. Do drop by to Law Lik Ah’s Law Firm at Shum Shui Po to collect your winnings!”
And next scene, Mr. Leung indeed at Law Ba’s office and scolded, “You all are liars! Cheated me to come here and for what?! You (pointing to Mrs. Leung who was sitting meekly), why you gang up with them to cheat me? WHY?!” George was very angry as he said, “How can you talk to your wife like that? You disappeared yourself for so long. She tried calling you, telling you may be going to jail and you never returned her call and now you are scolding her?” Mr. Leung said, “Jail? What did you do? How can I entrust my children and mother to you if you do crime?! You know I am very busy! I got a business in China to take care of!” Law Ba said, “If that is your concern, no worries Mr. Leung since she may be going to jail, you will be taking care of your mother and children again.” He said, “What?! She is taking care of them very well! My mother is happy staying with her, no need to change that! Oh, I need to buy cigarettes! I will be back,” and zoom he went and all of them look at Mrs. Leung who was very quiet when she stood up to say goodbye as George said, “Wait! Mr. Leung will be coming back.” She said sadly, “He won’t. He used the same excuse 3 years ago and he never came back,” and sadly she left and the guys were at a lost as to what to say.
Mrs. Leung went home and her mom-in-law was grumbling about her saying she is such a bad daughter-in-law, not buying the right fruits, not welcoming back her son when Mrs. Leung said, “Mother, he won’t be back. It has been 3 years.” The mother-in-law retorted, “You don’t want him to be back issit?” Later, crying alone, teaching her children how to make “tong yuen” and her daughter realized her mother may lose the case and go to jail and Mrs. Leung cried hugging them.
Seriously, for $1500, you won’t go to jail with such mitigating factors.
I can’t remember if the following scene is one scene or two separate scenes but for simplicity sake, I am just gonna recap what I can remember.
Fu or as his friends called him Teng (and so I shall call him Teng) was driving very, very fast, with his 3 friends hanging onto their dear lives and suddenly swerved to avoid a collision. Law Ba was very scared as he said, “Why the hell did you drive so fast? I know you’re upset with your father, but hey, don’t gamble away our lives!!” Chik said calmly, “You all are such cowards. No big deal! No big deal at all!!” But Teng was troubled.
At the road side stall, all 4 sitting down and everyone knew Teng was upset because of his argument with his father. But Chik said, “I knew Teng before all of you did and his relationship with his father is more complicated than what you witnessed! The Teng I know now is different from the Teng I knew then!”
And so … FLASHBACK!!
Teng was young, dressed smartly in suit and tie and was very happy working for his father during his summer vacation and showed promise in handling the business which pleased his father. But when Teng asked his father to maybe pay his colleagues some overtime for the job they’ve done, his father flatly refused, being a miser and all and Teng ended up arguing with his father and angrily said, “Be careful father that your son shall be born without an arse!” Which was funny since you know, Teng is his son…from thereon Teng became disillusioned with his father. He started to mix around with the kitchen staff which were all men with a past and tattoos on their bodies and Teng, riding motorcycles, having tattoos on his body became very irrational. His father scolded him and fired the kitchen staff which he felt was bad influence and refused to pay them their salary. Teng in anger broke into his father’s office and stole money to pay his friends and got caught by whom else but Chik. His mother asked him why he did what he did and he loudly said, “For justice! My friends deserved to be paid; father is an unscrupulous businessman without a heart!” Of course the old man was very angry as his mother said, “My son is no a bad boy. Don’t worry son, I will hire the best lawyer for you,” and Teng said, “I am not afraid of going to jail! What I did was right! It was for justice!!” His father retorted, “Really? Ok…see what you can do when you come out of jail! Probably some kitchen boy in some restaurant!! Pay for your own legal fees if you’re so smart! I will not pay a cent! Let him rot in jail for a while to learn his lesson!!”
And so he did. In the lockup, he met with Chik again….
The older Chik is, the more he dresses like a pimp! It is rather funny to see the younger him dressing so straightforward, so honest looking and now suddenly zoom past a decade and he looks so flashy.
Chik basically scolded Teng and I suppose after this they became friends, “You think you’re so smart, like some Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. In the end you’re an idiot! What you did was against the law. It is theft; it is wrong! If you’re so smart, so honest, do it the hard way! Earn the money! Stealing is always wrong! You’re not so smart after all! If you can’t even teach yourself, how can you expect to set an example for others to follow? Who do you think you are? Useless idiot, that’s what you are! Useless idiot!!”
And Teng listened and thought about it and finally realized where he went wrong. So he went back to studies and took up social work and as Chik finished his narration, “And I also thought Teng will work in a restaurant. Instead he became a social worker since then…” George sadly said, “You’re good at what you do and could make your father proud and yet you won’t. I am terrible at what I do and so I can’t even make my father be proud of me.” Teng looked at him seriously and said very, very earnestly, “Why do you say such things to yourself? You’re not what you think yourself to be. Think positively; you can achieve whatever you want to achieve.”
Does that mean they all knew Teng is a rich man’s son? How come didn’t get that impression? Surely they knew Mrs. Leung worked at Fuk Yuen restaurant and none of them ever raised an eyebrow when she mentioned that. Another plot hole? Anyway I really like Teng for what he said to George. He is a very positive person who knows his values and knows what he is as a person even if he is stubborn as a mule. Poor George suffers from the abundance of talent from his family(father so renowned, cousin so renowned, he must have felt like he could never live up to them and frankly don’t we all feel that way when we are next to more successful siblings?) so much so he felt small next to them. Unlike Teng who thinks highly of himself but not in an arrogant sort of way. Not like some over confident but someone sure of himself.
Anyway the guys went back to the discussion on Mrs. Leung’s case and George is slightly troubled, since lack of evidence to prove the coupons were forced on Mrs. Leung. So Teng said, “I talked to the employees, they confirmed Mrs. Leung’s story and I am willing to testify to that in court since they won’t, for fear of losing their jobs.”
Very “yi hei jai lui” of Teng. But Law Ba was right to say, “But your testimony will amount to nothing but hearsay evidence and the judge may disregard it.” Teng said, “What? My reputation as a social worker will convince the judge! No one will be willing to testify; moreover, I have dealt with so many complaints in the past with my father’s restaurant, I think my words will be trustworthy.” Law Ba said, “And even so, for the judge to accept that hearsay evidence, your words have to be trustworthy and you do have this volatile relationship with your father which the prosecution will no doubt attack you on that.” Teng loudly declared, “I have nothing to fear! My relationship with my father has nothing to do with it!” Law Ba, said “Even so, it is risky to call you as a witness.” Teng angrily said, “If you won’t call me as a witness, I will complain you to the disciplinary board for failing in your duties!” Law Ba gave up, stood up and said quite angrily, “No wonder your father wanted you to sit in jail for a while!! You never listen!” He walked away and then he said quietly, “I can’t stop you from testifying although I will warn you, the prosecution will shred your testimony to pieces.” He walked away and Teng confident that he will withstand the shredding.
On the issue of hearsay evidence, it is a legal technicality in the law of evidence that lawyers find it hard to understand, more so lay person. I am not sure how our own evidence law differs from Hong Kong, but I believe it is the same and so one part Law Ba is right, that is to say what Teng will testify amounts to hearsay evidence and the other part he said is absolutely wrong that is Teng having a good reputation will make his testimony acceptable by the judge and that the judge may choose to accept or disregard. What is hearsay? Quite simple, person C repeating what B told him which B knew personally from A, that established the fact/truth of the case at hand. The truth here is Mrs. Leung was forced to buy the coupons as per unwritten company policy; Teng is C, hearing this fact from an employee who of course learns it from A his employer. It is a clear-cut hearsay evidence, and so by evidentiary law, the judge will have no choice but to disregard it no matter if Teng is the Dalai Lama himself. So Law Ba was right to say it is hearsay but he is wrong to say the judge may disregard. The judge HAS TO disregard, if not this can be an appeal point and conviction or acquittal will be overturned on appeal. I know it is complicated but just know that Law Ba is using this statement to help Mrs. Leung establish a case that:
1. She was forced to buy the coupons and so it was an unfair term
2. Since it was unfair term, she has a right to reject the coupons
3. She rightly exchanged back the coupons for the $1,500 cash as her wage
4. Therefore when she took back the $1,500 wage, it was not theft but she was taking her own property
But it is hearsay since Teng has no personal knowledge, so it should have been disregarded but when Teng was on the stand, indeed prosecution objected and Law Ba countered something like Teng had no reason to lie on this fact, etc. Which really doesn’t matter. Hearsay is hearsay so when the judge allowed that statement, it was wrong.
Anyway the judge allowed the statement. Mr. Ting of course stood up and scolded Teng.
Prosecution stood up and attacked Teng on the point of his past and his very unstable relationship with his father. Teng did not deny; he admitted it all and the prosecution said, “And it is because of this that today, you’re using this case to attack your father, as a revenge for not paying your legal fees and you ended up in jail! And upon your release you did not return home since then!” No more questions. Law Ba and George looked grim but Teng said to the judge, “Judge I believe I have yet to answer his question,” and the judge allowed Teng to proceed and Teng said earnestly, “Yes, I was angry with my father. Yes, I blamed him for me being in jail. But when I was in jail I had time to reflect on my actions and finally I understood what I did was wrong. Which was why I took up social studies and became a social worker since then. If you said I used this case to hurt my father, please, it has been more than a decade and long overdue. I am quite simply doing my part and telling the truth. As a social worker, I have often come across cases where employees complained about my father; I have heard enough to know his way of doing things. I am here today because I learned my lesson in the past. I matured and yet my father, after all these years, still remain as he was. He never learned; he never matured.” Law Ba and George and even the prosecutor and the judge were impressed with Teng’s very earnest testimony. Of course, Mr. Ting was screaming back, “You ungrateful son! I fed you, clothed you and now this is how you repay me?!?!?” and all and the judge placed him under contempt and off he went to the lockup as Mr. Ting scolded Teng repeatedly for being ungrateful. Teng looked solemn but he did what he had to do.
Closing statements. Never heard from poor Mr. Prosecutor but Law Ba closed his defense with I do think another earnest summing up where he emphasized on Mrs. Leung’s good nature, how she refused to take welfare, how the coupons were forced on her, how she didn’t steal but it was her wage and he ended by saying “She could have taken tens of thousands from welfare, and yet she refused and now are we to believe she will steal a mere $1,500? Your honor, Tai Ng Ting is an honest working woman, a mother of 2 school going children and a sick mother-in-law, a husband who abandoned her 3 years ago and she had to work hard to earn that $6,000 to keep her entire family afloat. She is poor, but she did not steal. She will not steal so as to set an example for her children. She is a woman of fortitude and tonight is Mooncake Festival, for families to reunite and be whole again. I beg you your honor, I beg you, to find her not guilty, to return her to her family so that they may be whole again,” and all the while Mrs. Leung sat there listening to Law Ba with tears brimming in her eyes.
Quite a good scene, especially the tears brimming in her eyes moment. Whether she wins the case or not depends on whether the money were hers and I think those unfair practices do come into play but in reality. This is what will happen; she will lose the case for the fact that she did not have anyone to corroborate with her story about the coupons so the judge will disregard what Teng said and go with the facts. He can either agree with Law Ba on the issues of coupon based solely on Mrs. Leung’s testimony which I think is most likely the case since you know, judge is human too, they know who is David and who is Goliath but he can also not believe Mrs. Leung’s testimony. But seriously, it does not matter on the issue of coupon; this case can be decided solely on the issue of wage itself and like I said, the judge may feel that the terms of employment never stated she will or can be paid in coupons or in cash. Law Ba should have subpoenaed an employee, treat him or her as hostile witness and at the threat of obstruction of justice, the witness will have to testify the truth. IF he got fired by Mr. Ting because of this, he can sue Mr. Ting at whatever it is called in Hong Kong, those employment tribunals, get compensation, get salary and find another job.
In TVB world, the issue of Coupons and hearsay and such do not matter and in the end she won the case and was acquitted.
She thanked them all profusely and rushed home to her children. George said to Teng, “I suppose now your father and you will be even worse…” Teng nodded when suddenly Mr. Ting launched himself against Teng, slapping and beating Teng who tried to avoid but couldn’t and they couldn’t stop him as Mr. Ting slapped and beat, slapped and beat until Mrs. Ting fell to the ground, clutching her chest and everyone rushed to her. She asked her husband to take her home and which he did whilst he continued scolding him. Teng was very worried until he saw his mom turned back and showed him an okay sign and he was relieved. Law Ba smiled and said, “Your mother is indeed the best actress when it comes to your father!” Everyone smiled.
At home, Teng was busy making some chinese dessert/cake and all other 3 friends were there and looked at the cake and felt it was terrible. Teng said, “I just wanted to make something for dad, his favorite cake.” Law Ba wanting to encourage him said, “Ok! I will research on internet for the proper recipe!” Teng said, “Well, what are you waiting for?!” George said, “Papa’s maid is teochew; maybe she has the recipe.” He walked to make the call whilst Chik said cheerfully, “You know what? I will go down and buy more flour for you to make the perfect cake!” and off he went.
What a bunch of friends!!
Mr. and Mrs. Ting enjoying a very quiet dinner but Mr. Ting wasn’t pleased with the amount of waste when it comes to the food and scolded the maid whilst Mrs. Ting looked grim. Mr. Ting said, “What? Miss that unfilial son?” and Mrs. Ting said, “It is so quiet without him around,” and Mr. Ting said, “You’re always on his side; everytime I scold him, you will pretend to be sick, clutching your chest.” Mrs. Ting said, “And everytime you believe in my pretense,” and he shrugged, probably meaning to say he knew she was pretending anyway. Teng came home, with a tupperware full of those cakes he made earlier and his mother was very happy, tasted it and said, “Oh so delicious! Dear, try some!” Mr. Ting was about to try as he said grimly, “Why don’t you quit that no good job of yours and come home and help me with my business.” Teng said, “Father, I love my job, it is my ambition to be a social worker. I won’t leave my job,” and again flare up, argument, which ended with Mr. Ting angrily threw the tupperware onto the floor with all the cakes flying everywhere and shouting, “Pick up those things and LEAVE!!!” Mrs. Ting was very stressed as Teng said, “Fine I WILL!!” He picked them up much to Mr. Ting’s annoyance and then he gently said, “Mom, I will call you for tea some other time,” and Mrs. Ting nodded sadly and then Teng left, whilst Mr. Ting looked very, very grim.
Back at home, Teng was looking very sad as he tasted one of the pieces and said to himself, “Mother lied! It’s not even delicious,” and the guys jumped on him and each took a piece of the cake and munched on them as each said, “Urghhhh… terrible!” They wanted to stop eating as Teng said, “Hey, don’t waste! You know how many people have nothing to eat,” and they each said, “Ok ok” and they continued eating as Teng said, “I think my father and I… we are not gonna be ok for a long time…” Suddenly George said, “Teng… why is it I tasted something small and hard inside? Did you put in nuts?” Teng said, “Probably sand… I picked your piece up from the floor.” Chik and Law Ba laughed at George at his misfortune when Teng said grimly, “You both also. Father threw the whole tupperware onto the floor; I picked them up also from the floor.” This time George laughed and the three stared at Teng for awhile and then laughingly threw themselves onto him and all laughed happily.
Next episode, Teng meets the prostitute with the nickname Long Legs.
You know, the last scene is rather heart warming. The camaraderie between the guys and TVB is best at showing such camaraderie. Teng is very serious as a person but luckily balances well with friends as crazy as Chik or as carefree as Law Ba and as decent as George, who benefitted too from Teng who is honest and positive. Basically this is a weird bunch of people. A social worker looking more like a triad member, a lawyer looking like some uncouth “dei poon lou,” a cop who dresses like a pimp and a young lawyer who doesn’t look like one. But I like this bunch, Chik included. Chik is one character that is underdeveloped but he is a positive one. Yes he is a coward sometimes but he is pretty encouraging as a friend; buying food for then, buying flour, etc. And it was him who scolded Teng to the path of goodness rather than being stubborn and unreasonable although Teng is stubborn. Mr. Ting is wrong; I do think Teng was right in doing what he did. I am sure there will be a reunion sometime later.
As for performances, Kevin Cheng is doing fine. No comment, since nothing bad to say, I have nothing more to say.
Jazz Lam did very, very well. I was very impressed with the way he handled the scenes where he stuttered, nervous and all and those scenes with underlying anger that he was incompetent and was unworthy to be his papa’s son.
Sam Lee as we all know was a movie actor. I remember he got his break from an independent film. Some may say he is not a terribly good actor, since he has only one expression but I will say he is a very good actor because one expression and he conveyed plenty. From stubbornness to regret to everything else. His Teng is supposed to be serious and solemn and yet unexpectedly Sam got to be deadpan funny in not so funny scenes; like cursing Mr. Ting having a son without arse when seriously, isn’t he the son? I thought that was funny. The way he delivered the line about the sand in the cake, etc. These aren’t supposed to be funny but yet somehow they were. But yes, he displayed that stubbornness very well and the scene where Teng threatened to report Law Ba to the disciplinary board was to me Teng going overboard.
Everybody else did well, no comment. Even the prosecutor looks like a prosecutor.
Anyway next episode is a new case that is….
The Prosecutor vs Ko Wing Leung
The case : The murder of Yam Yuen Yuen, lover of Ko Wing Leung (I think)
Counsel for the state : The prosecutor, name probably unknown
Defense : Most probably Law Ba or maybe Kris or them together since they must have some opportunity to be together
Sharon Chan will be in it and she recently won Best Supporting for this role so we shall see how breakthrough was her performance. And I checked; she is not Yam Yuen Yuen so she won’t die so soon. Oops! Future spoiler! Aiyahhhhh… well known fact she will die. Even saw her death in the themesong sequence. Question is, how she died? I am avoiding scrolling down further that Wikipedia page.
One final thing. How old is everyone?
Teng. He was in high school when he committed theft? So I assume 18. Not sure how long he was in jail but at least a decade has passed. So I shall say in his early 30s? Or mid 30s?
Law Ba. At least 25 when he entered legal profession, to be barrister means min 3 years as solicitor, so probably 28 or 29 when he became barrister. I suppose he worked a few years then disappeared for 7. Probably 40? Late 30s?
Kris, was in law school when she heard of Law Ba. Plus training, etc, early 30s?
George…still a solicitor despite practising for several years. I assume about 30? Late 20s?
Chik probably same age as Law Ba.
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at Point2e.com.