Newsletter (10) Reflections on The Downtown East Killing

This is really the talk of the town, the killing of Darren Ng at Downtown East.

I don’t have any special insider information on what REALLY happened that day, so I’ll have to wait for the results of the official investigations to be released. But in the meantime, here are some thoughts I’d like to share with you.

1)    Staring Incidents – Some people, especially ladies, cannot understand how a staring incident can lead to a fight, much less a killing. At the very root of it all, staring amongst us males is a very primitive way to establish dominance and hierarchy. The lesser is supposed to look away first, and if he doesn’t, it’s a challenge to the other guy.

The drive to be the top dog, or at least fend off anyone challenging our position in the ranking, is a very primal force within us guys. So don’t be surprised if it makes us do things that are very stupid. You can tell that you (or any guy you are hanging out with) have gone stupid when you have the option to walk away from a dangerous conflict but choose not to because you think it causes you to lose face, and so you ‘cannot’ back down.

Back down. Your pride isn’t worth getting into that much trouble!

Sometimes, however, the bad guys will use staring as part of the interview, to see if the guy they have selected is a safe victim. They’d go up to a lone guy, accuse him of staring at one of them and trying to pick a fight, and watch his reaction. If he shows any sign of fear (cringing, bluster or other forms of nervous behavior) they take it that it’s safe for them to attack this person. Then they’d usually ramp up the intensity (to feed off the person’s fear) until they finally attack physically.

One way you can tell the difference between the two is to look out for witnesses. If there are many other people around (for example, in a pub or a public place), then it’s a face-issue. If there aren’t, chances are that it is a criminal, predatory attack.

2)    Groups – In my crime prevention talks, I mention that one of the danger signs to watch out for will be guys in a group. I’m not saying that every single group of guys will give problems; what I AM saying is that if you see a group of guys together, watch out for the other danger signs as well.

It doesn’t have to be from an ‘official’ gang. Any group of closely knit people may be guarded towards outsiders, and also try to demonstrate their loyalty for the group by putting down or being hostile towards outsiders. And don’t forget the face issue. Losing face is bad, but losing face in front of your ‘gang’ is even worse. So the members may end up feeding off each other’s aggressiveness and getting even more belligerent than they would have been if they were by themselves.

What can make things even worse will be the fact that if you have a group of 10 guys, and if the top dog starts acting stupid, those who know better may be too intimidated to speak out, or if they do speak out they get brushed aside. It’s not unknown to have an entire group of guys dragged into a fight, and later discover that almost all of them wanted to walk away but they were all too afraid to speak out. So they ALL end up in trouble together…

3)    Weapons – The police have classified this case as murder, and I suspect that the fact that weapons were used was a large factor in their decision. Let’s face it, unless you are in a large group of trainee chefs on the way to work, you have no good reason to be going around carrying choppers at Downtown East. The fact that those people armed themselves with choppers showed that they had the intent to commit violent crime. That makes it quite straightforward, in my opinion.

And that is what you need to think about before you leave home armed. If you have some official weapon, like a combat knife, chemical spray or the like, and if you ever end up using it, you are going to have to prove to the police that you did not go out with the pre-meditated decision to cause harm.  That is not going to be easy to prove, so carrying a recognized weapon will be a legal risk to you. Think carefully before you make that decision.

About the only situations you MIGHT be able to justify using a weapon may be if you were attacked at home (you grabbed whatever was nearby to defend yourself, and it just happened to be your mummy’s Japanese sword, for example) or if you used some makeshift weapon to buy yourself time and space to escape. I remember discussing this topic with some ladies who worked at Cold Storage Supermarket. They had a pretty long list of creative (and nasty) options that look very innocent, but could effectively buy them time to escape if they ever needed it. I’m not going to give away any secrets here, but let me just say that I pity any robber who tries to rob any of those ladies armed with their grocery concoctions!

Conclusion: these are my thoughts and musings on the Downtown East killing. As I said before, I don’t have any special insider information on it, but I am looking at it from the angle of what lessons we can gleam from it. Think through carefully, are there any changes to your habits or lifestyle you ought to make now in the light of these lessons?


I will not be conducting any group classes for this period of time. I am still available, however, for the Crime Prevention Talks and for one-on-one lessons and coaching.

So if you are interested in booking me for coaching or for the talks, email me at and I will get back to you with more info. Thanks!


About Junjie
Musician, Martial Artist and father of two boys. Rambler, thinker and compulsive teacher.

2 Responses to Newsletter (10) Reflections on The Downtown East Killing

  1. eastpaw says:

    I lol’ed at “your mummy’s Japanese sword”. Then I remembered that YOUR mummy DOES have a katana.

    • Junjie says:

      Yup. I have one lethal mummy. My aunt’s dangerous too, she doesn’t do a downward block, she slaps the back of the fist instead. And you drop to the ground crying because of one slap… 😀

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