The Straits Times
Published on Oct 02, 2012

Batam women: 'Singaporean men come here and act rich'

This story originally appeared in The New Paper on Sunday, Sept 30.


Cheats. Show-offs. Lechers.

These are just some of the words Madam Ida Rumondang Sinaga used to describe Singaporean men when The New Paper on Sunday visited her last weekend.

Speaking in Bahasa Indonesia from her home at Lucky Estate in Lubuk Baja, the feisty shopkeeper says: "My friends and I are wary of Singaporean men. I know somebody who used to date one.

"He promised to marry her when she got pregnant, but he later told her that he had to go back to Singapore first to settle some matters. That was the last she heard of him."

It's safe to say that Madam Sinaga, who is in her 30s, has a strong dislike for Singaporean men who visit Batam regularly.

"They come here, flash their money and act like they are rich, trying to attract local women.

"Only after some time do these poor women find out that these men are actually penniless in Singapore."

She says she has heard other stories from local women who were cheated by Singaporean men.

"These kind of men really annoy me as they only want a good time," adds Madam Sinaga.

"But some of us Batam women know better than to fall for their tricks."

For all the bile she spews, it is perhaps ironic that Madam Sinaga is herself married to a Singaporean.

She is quick to defend him, however, adding that he is nothing like the Singaporean men she despises.

"My husband is different. He is a good man," she maintains, smiling.

She first met him in 2005 when she was working at a coffee shop in Batam.

"A friend introduced us and at first, I was not interested after what I had heard about men from Singapore.

"But he seemed nice and sincere, so I decided to give him a chance."

Her husband, Mr Ng Meng Chong, 55, then started to visit her frequently.

Love eventually blossomed between the pair, and they tied the knot in 2008.

They now have a four-year-old son, Laurent.

Madam Sinaga says she is one of the lucky few as Mr Ng is "a loving father and husband".

She continues: "Ever since we first met, he has never gone out at night to the pubs and massage parlours here.

"Well, now that we are married, he can try. But I'd better not find out or he will have to bear the consequences!" she adds with a laugh.

Mr Ng was previously married to a Singaporean woman, and that marriage ended in divorce in 2003.

They have a son, who is now 18.

Mr Ng is still based in Singapore - he runs a hawker stall in Toa Payoh - but he makes it a point to visit his new family on Batam every weekend.

Mr Ng explains: "I will stay with Ida for a few days before returning to Singapore to take care of my elder son, who lives with me.

"My son met Ida when she visited Singapore (a few years ago) and they got along well. He calls her 'aunty'."

Madam Sinaga wants her son to move to Singapore soon.

Her reason: She would like Laurent to go to school in Singapore, as she feels that the standard of education is better.

"Laurent can have a better future if he goes to school in Singapore to learn English," she says.

"But I'd rather remain in Batam.

"There are buildings everywhere (in Singapore) with no open spaces. I don't feel free in Singapore. Anyway, I have a business to run in Batam and Indonesia is, after all, my home."