Wang Lei (王雷) (Singaporean Entertainer)
Wang Lei (王雷)
Hong Chin Chiew
4 May 1961
|Other names||歌台一哥, 卖鱼哥, 彰化人, 陳雷, 香蕉哥哥, 朱振億的兒子, 笑A|
|Spouse(s)||Florence Cheng (m.1984)|
Wang Lei (born 4 May 1961 as Hong Chin Chiew) is a Singaporean getai singer, actor, show host, and online fish hawker. At the age of 38, he started performing at getai shows to earn additional cash to pay off his gambling debts. Due to the lack of physical getai shows during the current COVID-19 pandemic, he turned to online fishmongering at 59 years old.
Early life & family
Wang Lei was born as Hong Chin Chiew on 4 May 1961. His father was a woodworker and his mother was a housewife. Wang Lei was the fifth of six children, all of whom grew up in poverty.
He dropped out of school at Primary 5 and took up odd-jobs to contribute to his family income, earning on average $900 a month. Some of these jobs included soda deliveries and wet market sales. He has not pursued further education since then.
Wang Lei married his wife, Florence Cheng, when they were 23 years old. They first met via phone call where the connections were crossed. Wang Lei was connected to Florence instead of his friend. Florence worked at an electronics manufacturer in the assembly-line department. They have three children together, two daughters and a son. Florence was praised for constantly supporting Wang Lei and helping their marriage persevere through his gambling addiction.
In an interview with 8 Days Singapore, Wang Lei revealed that his gambling addiction had caused a massive rift in his relationship with his eldest daughter causing the pair to ignore each other for a period of 10 years.
He went on to reveal that the cause for this strain had stemmed from a request he had made for her to buy him a car under her name, to which she refused. This had angered Wang Lei into not speaking to her, and this eventually resulted in a cold war that lasted almost a decade.
“I was bankrupt then, so I couldn’t buy a car. But I needed a car, and I asked my elder daughter to buy it and put the insurance under her name. She immediately said no (…) When you have something to ask of your daughter and she says no, your heart will definitely break.”
It was at the age of 11 that Wang Lei purchased his first lottery ticket. He went on to win the third prize of $1,500. After that, the 18-year-old was egged on by a friend to dabble in horse betting, because he had claimed to have insider information. In meWATCH TV series Move On, Wang Lei said,
“That first time I betted, I won over $900. … I bet $20 in cash and received my winnings in cash immediately. Immediately! So I thought, ‘Wow, it’s so easy to win.’”
Fuelled by the desire to escape poverty, he went on to regularly place horse race bets and cruises where he could gamble, but his debts began to snowball. It came to a point where he didn’t have enough money to buy an electronic dictionary for his eldest daughter’s PSLE, and from there, he turned to loan sharks for money. 
His gambling addiction led him to continue gambling and borrowing money, in hopes of recouping his losses. This cycle eventually led to bankruptcy where he had his apartment repossessed by a friend he owed money to. He had also taken money from his wife, who was at one point the sole breadwinner of the family. While his mother was admitted to the hospital, Wang Lei stole money that was meant for hospital bills from her drawer. One of his greatest losses was onboard a gambling cruise where he lost $230,000 in a span of three days.
Due to his gambling addiction, Wang Lei was not present at the hospital when his mother passed as he was at a casino. His friends, Mark Lee and Marcus Chin, attested to his gambling addiction, saying that Wang Lei would “rather bet wrong than not bet at all.”
In 2004, Wang Lei tried to quit gambling. While slipping in and out of casinos and gambling dens, he had owed loan sharks over $300,000. In 2013, the passing of his long-time gambler friend, John Cheng (‘Ah Nan’) caused Wang Lei to take quitting gambling more seriously. To pay off debts, he negotiated with loan sharks and borrowed advance salaries from his getai manager. After 33 years of being a serial gambler, Wang Lei finally became debt-free in 2015. He also managed to pay off home and car loans in 2019.
Getai singer (1998 - present day)
In 1998, Wang Lei entered a Hokkien singing competition organised by Marsiling Community Club and was awarded second place. One of the judges, Xie Jinshi, introduced him to the getai scene, marking his debut into entertainment. Getai singers performed song and dance during Chinese festivals like the Hungry Ghost Festival. Hong Chin Chiew earned his stage name, “Wang Lei”, due to his impression of Chen Lei, a famous Taiwanese Hokkien singer. He was earning $5,000 from performing at 150 shows a month.
Wang Lei later became acquainted with Director Jack Neo in 2009, who offered him his first acting role in the movie The Best Bet. He later on starred in several other Jack Neo films such as Ah Boys To Men (the series) and Long Long Time Ago.
Wang Lei’s last physical getai show was on 4 February 2020. He remains active in the getai scene through e-getai livestream, 歌台欢乐夜 (Getai Fun Nite eGetai Show}, hosted on Lex(S) Entertainment’s Facebook page.
Online fish hawker (2020 - present day)
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wang Lei was unable to perform at physical getai shows and thus raked in “zero income for 75 days”. One of his friends in the seafood industry expressed his concerns about disruptions in sales due to the pandemic. He asked if Wang Lei could help him boost business during his livestreams. At this time, Wang Lei was only chatting with a small audience, so he was sceptical about the effectiveness of the idea. Nonetheless, he still agreed to lend assistance to his friend.
During an interview with Sure Boh Singapore, he revealed his strategy for attracting crowds, saying that he “started cracking jokes, dirty jokes”. Wang Lei attributes further stream successes to his quick wit at answering comments asking rhetorical questions.
Wang Lei in one of his fishmongering streams in February 2022. Screenshot from Facebook.
He has earned the moniker, “卖鱼哥 (Fish Selling Bro)” through comedic methods of hawking seafood products.
Wang Lei took it upon himself to research on the type of fish he was selling as well as delivery methods. Beyond livestream sales, he has also set up an online store retailing these seafood products. He engages Grab drivers to perform the deliveries.
“Not only was I able to help the fishermen, but I also helped the Grab drivers with income.”
Garnering international attention
“Fish Selling Bro” has since caught the attention of international audiences. Wang Lei’s fishmongering streams have been shared on Chinese social media platforms like Douyin, and ranked 18th on Weibo’s trending videos. Show Lo, Taiwanese singer and actor, has also sent messages of encouragement to Wang Lei for “bring(ing) joy to everyone”.
Royal Dragon Restaurant
On 28 August 2020, Wang Lei opened a Cantonese seafood restaurant, Royal Dragon Restaurant (御龙阁) at Havelock Road. The 10,000 square feet establishment hosts 20 tables and eight private rooms. He also offered a 20% discount to Bukit Merah residents in 2021.
Wang Lei has been cast in several movies directed by Jack Neo. He has also been appointed as Asia Momentum Media Entertainment’s first ambassador.
|2000||Singapore "Xiao" 新加坡 “笑”|||
|2004||The Best Bet 突然发财||4D Liang 马票良|||
|2007||881||As himself, Wang Lei 王雷|||
|2008||Money No Enough 2||Getai singer|||
|2009||Where Got Ghost? 吓到笑||Reservist Lei 阿雷|||
|2010||Being Human 做人||Wang|||
|2011||The Ghosts Must Be Crazy 鬼也笑||Reservist Lei 阿雷|||
|2012||Ah Boys to Men 新兵正传||Ken’s uncle|||
|2013||Ah Boys to Men 2 新兵正传II|||
|Everybody’s Business 人人有份||Mr. Wong 王先生|||
|2014||The Lion Men 狮神决战||Cameo|||
|The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown 狮神决战之: 终极一战|||
|2015||Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen 新兵正传III：蛙人传||Ken’s uncle|||
|My Papa Rich 东主有喜||杨东|||
|2016||Long Long Time Ago 我们的故事||Si Shu 四叔|||
|Long Long Time Ago 2 我们的故事2||Si Shu 四叔|||
|Eat Already? 吃饱没?||Bird King (Niao Wang) 鸟王
|Take 2 遇见贵人||Mad Dog|||
|Wang Lei's Real Life Story (Eng sub)||As himself, Wang Lei 王雷|||
|2017||Ah Boys to Men 4 新兵正传IV||1970s Army 3SG|||
|Headlines 头条||Ah Cai|||
|Move On 放下 - Ep 1||As himself, Wang Lei 王雷|||
|2018||Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei The Movie 旺得福梁细妹||Guang Dong Po
As himself, Wang Lei 王雷
|23:59: The Haunting Hour|||
|When The Night Falls - The Story Of Wang Lei 路边歌王||As himself, Wang Lei 王雷|||
|2019||The Cold Raising The Cold|||
|Fat Hope 超磅名模|||
|2020||“How Are You?” 2 好世谋2 (Hoseh Bo 2)||Hui Ying Xiong 惠英雄|||
|The Diam Diam Era 我们的故事之沉默的年代||Liu Shun Zhong|||
|2021||The Diam Diam Era 2 我们的故事之沉默的年代2|||
|Sibeh Yummy 东南西北好吃||Co-host|||
|Sibeh Yummy 2 东南西北好吃2|||
|TBC||The Story of the Fishmonger Wang (tentative)||As himself, Wang Lei 王雷|||
In 2020, Wang Lei released a music video for his fish hawking business, titled “卖鱼歌 (“Song of Fish Selling”)”.
||-||99 王雷专辑||Wind Record (S) Pte Ltd|||
|1. （A) 瑞狮祥龙贺新春
|-||歌台金曲大车拼||House Of Productions Pte Ltd|||
||2003||Long Time No See 福建魅力金曲||New Southern Records Sdn. Bhd.|||
+ 祝福 （组曲）
|-||王雷：乡土情||LEX (S) Entertainment Productions|||
||2020||卖鱼歌||Wang Lei Mai Yu Ge Trading Sdn Bhd
Funkies Monkies Music
The Songwriter Music College
Replacement of marriage certificate (2019)
Wang Lei lost his marriage certificate on a bus in 1984. Thereafter, due to his gambling addiction, he also pawned his wedding for $50. MP Low Yen Ling was present at a 2018 getai awards ceremony when Wang Lei shared about the loss of his marriage certificate. She helped the couple to obtain a new marriage certificate and presented it to them on 12 January 2019. The couple also received new wedding rings from their daughter.
Investigation by SFA for hygiene violation during fishmongering livestream (2020)
During one of Wang Lei’s livestreams as “Fish Selling Bro”, he received a complaint for not handling fish without gloves. He was brought in for questioning by the Singapore Food Agency for four hours. Wang Lei took to Facebook in a complaint post, retorting how he was questioned for “not using gloves in his own home”.
Copyright claims for “Fish Selling Bro” trademark (2021)
Wang Lei’s newfound success in the seafood industry as “Fish Selling Bro” was marked by his logo. Designed by a Malaysian netizen, James, in April 2020, the logo includes Wang Lei’s moniker, “Fish Selling Bro”. In July 2020, he had hopes of launching “Fish Selling Bro” products such as pillows and coffee and thus applied to trademark his logo. However, a Chinese businessman had already filed for the same trademark in China, meaning that Wang Lei could not expand his business there. Later in June 2021, it was reported that Wang Lei had spent a five-digit sum in a lawsuit to reclaim his trademark.
Suspected breach of COVID-19 restrictions (2021)
On his 60th birthday, Wang Lei hosted a party and released photos of party guests on Facebook. A headcount by The Independent saw at least 17 people in attendance, more than the legal gathering limit at that time.
Controversial appearance at Singapore Writers Festival (2021)
Wang Lei was announced to appear at the Singapore Writers Festival 2021: Vanishing Trades. The event took place on 6 November 2021, as a Mandarin panel where guest speakers discussed their line of work. Singaporean authors responded to the news with displeasure. Wang Lei was known for swearing in his fishmongering livestreams, to which local authors felt was mismatched with the prominence of the event.
Nonetheless, he received support from fans who posted messages of encouragement and congratulations on Facebook. One redditor, u/kuang89, added onto a thread discussing Wang Lei’s appearance, reminding netizens that the panel’s purpose was to discuss local art forms at risk of disappearing.
“... Whether you think he’s crude or not, he is a key person in a variety of dying trades, he manage to be more popular selling fish than busty girls doing live stream where everyone thinks looks matters. He has his ups and downs in life, his human experiences alone are stories.”
Holidaying in Paris (2021)
Teaching foreigners Hokkien
On a family trip to Paris, Wang Lei met some foreigners and taught them a few Singaporean phrases. Some of these phrases were Hokkien vulgarities. He posted videos documenting his time in Paris with these foreigners. Locals and netizens expressed their disapproval about his behaviour and commented that he had “soiled the image of Singaoporeans”. To this, Wang Lei said that he “felt betrayed by the local press” for not highlighting a positive image instead.
Selling designer bags for charity
On the same trip, Wang Lei hosted a livestream in a Gucci outlet to promote their goods online. Within two hours, he was able to sell $1 million worth of products. The proceeds of the sales were given to aid 1,000 low-income families. Despite the act of charity, Wang Lei felt slandered by local news for focusing on him teaching foreigners vulgarities, instead of his good deeds.
References / Citations
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- “The Cold Raising The Cold”. Mubi. Accessed on 18 February 2022
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