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One study mama on to having affairs with men here: I needed the money

The video of a Singaporean wife confronting her husband and his alleged mistress, a study mama, has gone viral. And it has aroused latent feelings of hostility. MAUREEN KOH (maureenk@sph.com.sg) talks to study mamas here who lament that, but finds one who was herself in a similar situation

"It takes two hands to clap," declares the study mama from Dalian, China, in an interview with The New Paper on Sunday.

She looks this correspondent straight in the eye, then volunteers a startling piece of information: "I have been involved in relationships with two married men before."

The last one, she adds, ended in January.

But there was much ugliness and drama before that, reveals 44-year-old Mabelle.

We are using only her English name to avoid identifying her son, 15. He is in the Integrated Programme (IP) of one of the top schools here.

Mabelle says she is willing to share her experience because she feels that "it is grossly unfair to blame PRC women" when a family breaks down. She is aware that her comments could invite a backlash, but she says in Mandarin: "Who cares? I don't owe anyone a living. If there is any reason for concern, it would just be my son, because he is innocent."

Two weeks ago, a young woman posted the video of her mother confronting her father and his alleged mistress, a Chinese study mama.

The young woman claimed that her father "took every single thing that's worth money from my mother", including jewellery and money intended for her education. The video, shared on the young woman's Facebook, went viral.

She defended her actions when comments started coming in: "People condemned this action... But why do I do this? We sought help actively. Everywhere we went, they pushed us around... Someone just teach me what to do. Talk to him nicely? We did. Seek help from people around us? We did. Enough is enough."

Mabelle fits the stereotype of a man-eater. She is a beauty with long black hair, who favours clothes that show off her buxom figure.

She knows that she is sexy and she has no qualms using her looks to her advantage.

Mabelle arrived in Singapore in 2007, accompanying her son, who was aged nine then. She and her husband borrowed the equivalent of about $10,000, just to put the boy in school here.

She gave it a decent go at making money, she says, but hated her first two jobs - as a foot reflexology therapist, then a packer in a factory.

She subsequently worked as a hawker's assistant at a food centre, where she met the married cabby in 2009. They had an affair for 15 months.

She claims she dumped him when she realised he was "not really that rich".

"He could give me only $100, $200 a week," she says without batting an eyelid. "I could have earned more money if I continued to work instead."

Her son got a scholarship after his excellent PSLE results, but she says money was still tight. "It was hard making ends meet and I got fed-up of having to work so hard."

She says she could not depend on her husband, who was working as a kitchen helper in China to repay their loan.

Mabelle has watched the viral video and she admits she is grateful her ex-lover's family did nothing of that sort to her.

She says: "My son showed me the video and he told me that I was lucky I did not end up like this woman. He was right, you know?"

She started another relationship with a "more well-to-do" man in 2011.

He runs a grocery store at the void deck of the HDB block where she was staying then.

"I knew he was interested in me when he started giving me discounts for the things I bought," she says. At times, he would include freebies like a bottle of her favourite beer.

She invited him up to the three-room flat one afternoon and that saw the start of the affair.

When the man's wife first found out a year later, he promised to end the relationship.

"But it was only for show. He got me to rent another flat that was further away and would come visit me during his breaks," she says.

Things came to a head this year, just before Mabelle was about to return to China for Chinese New Year.

The man had transferred $10,000 to her account so that she could make the down payment for an apartment there.

Somehow, she says, his wife found out. But this time, instead of confronting him, the wife went to the shop where Mabelle was working as a part-time manicurist and created a scene.

"It was so embarrassing when she started to scream like a mad woman, I just told the boss that I gave 24 hours' notice and left," she recounts.

"But she tailed me home."

By then, two other women had joined the wife. Together, they smashed flowers potsto get neighbours' attention.

"They shouted loudly, saying I was a China woman who was here to seduce Singaporean men and break up families," she says.

It wasn't until a neighbour wanted to call the police that they stopped.

Mabelle says: "I heard one of the friends telling the wife to leave and not to blow things up until there was no way to salvage her marriage."

She admits that she wanted to ignore the wife's warning and threat at first.

"Why should I back off? It's not like I can force her husband to come to me if he didn't want to," she argues.

It was only when her son returned home that night that Mabelle changed her mind.

She says: "It was the first time I saw my son cry. The last time he did that, I remember, he was a kid running around in diapers."

In a separate interview, her son says in fluent English: "The humiliation was too much for me to bear. I had trouble coping with school, my grades were dropping and I almost failed my final term examinations last year."

He also had to cope with keeping the secret from his father, who had started to suspect that his wife was being unfaithful.

"I had to tell lies and keep assuring my father that all was well.

"At the same time, I was ashamed because there were many occasions when the man gave me a lift to or picked me up from school, and my friends asked about him," says the soft-spoken teen.

"I was aware I was the subject of their gossip but I was helpless because it was a reality."

He hopes his mother has "finally come to her senses". He says: "My mother was fortunate. She could have been the woman in the video. I could have been that woman's daughter, whose identity had also been exposed."

Mabelle is now working as a manicurist and living off the "fen shou fei" (break-up compensation). She declines to reveal how much it is, but says that it is sufficient for her until her son completes his IP studies in another two years.

She hopes to save enough to be able to run a manicure business when she returns home.

"I believe life will get easier after my son graduates from university. I just have to try and bear it for now," she says.


"I was aware I was the subject of their gossip but I was helpless because it was a reality."

- Mabelle's 15-year-old son, who is an Integrated Programme student at a top school here