How many of us have come across opportunities to be dishonest and, while feeling the temptation, have let fear of the consequences of being found out restrain us?
I’m not talking about opportunities of the Maddof magnitude but rather of those that once-practising lawyer Choy Chee Yean, 42, and Alice Lau Qian Xiu, 46, an accounts assistant, came across.
Theirs were two stories on the online Straits Times today.
Two years ago, Choy, who was a partner of Rajah & Tann, one of Singapore’s top law firm, was staying at a top Hongkong hotel while on work assignment when he came across a neighbouring room where the door was ajar and the occupant not in.
He went in and helped himself to several items including a cellphone and an iPod nano.
As for Alice, she was playing Russian roulette slot machines at Resorts World Sentosa, side by side with a man, who left without cashing out the credits within his machine.
After a short while, she realised that the credits were still inside her neighbour’s machine. She cashed out the credits and a ticket was printed stating an amount of $630. She then cashed out her own machine and went to redeem her neighbour’s credits.
Meanwhile, the man, realising that he had left credits in his slot machine, got the RWS management to refund him the missing $630 worth of credits.
After viewing the security TV, RWS managed to find Alice who was still at the casino. She admitted what she did and returned the amount.
For their greed, Choy and Alice got their come uppance.
Choy, after receiving a suspended sentence in Hongkong, was today struck off the rolls by the Singapore Court of Three Judges. This means he can no longer practice as a lawyer, even if he wants to.
Reading out their decision, Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang said that the legal profession cannot be seen to be tolerant of what Choy did.
Alice, who was charged in a magistrate’s court for misappropriating her neighbour’s cash-out credit, was fined $1,500.
Choy’s plea has always been that he was depressed and he was crying for help by his conduct. It’s not stated what prompted Alice’s action.
IMHO, I think both were motivated by greed pure and simple. And seizing the moment, they forgot that the candle isn’t worth the game, if they are found out.
For the majority of us, the fear of being found out and the shame and punishment that follow are enough to make us honest and keep our itchy fingers to ourselves.
What happened to Choy and Alice is another powerful reminder that greed, like crime, doesn’t pay. Indeed greed is a crime when you grab something that doesn’t belong to you, unless it’s someone else’s spouse! 😉