90 Years Ago This Week: “Annamite woman abused by tramway conductors”

An electric tram on Saigon’s boulevard Bonard (Lê Lợi) in the late 1920s

This article appeared in the Echo Annamite newspaper on 19 April 1926.

On the 6th April at 2:45 p.m., a young Annamite [Vietnamese] woman was abused by two tramway conductors – one an Indian, Mr Dayot, and the other a local, Mr Ngu – in the following circumstances:
Pressed by the departure of the train, our young traveller climbed on board and sat in first class, although she was only equipped with a second-class ticket.
Mr Ngu ordered her to move.
As the tram had already moved out of the station, the young woman begged him to leave her where she was for now, promising to relocate to second class as soon as they reached the next station.
Instead of showing the elementary gallantry and common decency due to this frail individual, who also happened to be one of his compatriots, Mr Ngu proceeded to pour shovel loads of insults on his interlocutor.
And that, in front of many other passengers.
“If you wish,” replied the young woman, “I’ll pay extra. But let please do not use these offensive words.”
The other refused to listen and was about to hit her, when Mr. Dayot arrived.
“Shut up or get off!” he yelled, making threatening gestures at the poor lady, on whom he bestowed, in turn, a string of curses.
For what must be the thirty-sixth time, we draw the attention of the Director of the Tramway Company to the total lack of education of his staff members of all nationalities.
We begin to tire of this situation.
Let him take tough sanctions against these officials, otherwise the trams risk being deserted by travellers who pay to be well served, and not to be insulted.

Tim Doling is the author of the walking tour guidebook Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City (Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới, Hà Nội, 2014) and also conducts Saigon and Chợ Lớn Heritage Tours.

A full index of all Tim’s blog articles since November 2013 is now available here.

Join the Facebook group pages Saigon-Chợ Lớn Then & Now to see historic photographs juxtaposed with new ones taken in the same locations, and Đài Quan sát Di sản Sài Gòn – Saigon Heritage Observatory for up-to-date information on conservation issues in Saigon and Chợ Lớn.

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