It’s been quite a while since my last blog entry here. I was busy learning the taxi trade the hard way thru trial and error. From 24 Feb onwards, I started driving taxi full swing. Before that, it was on and off for only 4 hours taking a part of Alan Taxi’s (AT) shift trying to get a feel of it. I’m still under the intensive tutelage of AT. If there is any problem or I’m not sure of certain things, I would just call up AT to seek enlightenment. I use a bluetooth headset to talk whenever I’m driving.
I would say that so far it’s quite an enjoyable experience driving taxi meeting all kinds of people. It is a good decent honest living job specially reserved for citizens only. For that, I am very grateful to this government for not opening this taxi trade to PRs and foreigners. Most of us taxi drivers share my view. But then in life, sometimes making an honest decent living can be a challenge. Allow me to elaborate what happened to me last night. It nearly cost me my life if not for the cool and calm manner I had maintained throughout the nearly 10 min ordeal I had endured with a foreign barbarian!
I started my shift yesterday from about 1500 hrs and supposed to end by 0300 hrs the next day. I’m relieving my fren Siong who is currently on a 5-day tour in China. He is also a relief driver. I only pay $30 for the 12-hour shift. He is paying the balance $20 for the $50 taxi daily rental(12 hr shift). On the 3rd day i.e. yesterday (19/3/14), I started my shift as per normal. I was happily picking up passengers all over the island. It was a good day and business was brisk.
After I had dropped off one Hong Konger off Pearls Centre along Eu Tong Seng Street, I proceeded to People’s Park Complex along the same road. I saw two sets of passengers – two Caucasians and a local Chinese couple. I stopped in front of the two Caucasian men since they were nearer to me. They were huge typical Caucasians with loud voice. I only realized my mistake when I smelt alcohol once they boarded my taxi. But then it was too late to reject them. I’ll live to regret that mistake.
The one wearing dark colored T-shirt with bermuda shorts heaved into the front passenger seat and instructed me to send him to the Carlton City Hotel where he stay and his friend to West Coast Crescent. I had difficulty understanding his pronunciation and kept asking him to repeat the name of the hotel and the location. He told me it’s at Gopeng Street opposite Amara Hotel. I then told him that I know how to get to Amara Hotel along Tanjong Pagar Rd. I also know where is Gopeng Street but not sure of the Carlton City Hotel though. He told me to just send him to Amara Hotel. I told him no problem. It’s just a short distance away. I hit the meter and off we go. It was about 2149 hrs.
I shot off and made an U-turn at Upper Pickering Street into South Bridge Road heading straight to Tanjong Pagar Road. They were busy talking in an unknown foreign tongue. They could not be speaking English, French, German or Portuguese which I could differentiate. I suspect they belong to one of the Eastern European bloc countries. Maybe from Russia or Ukraine? Very rough and loud with an alien accent. Whilst approaching Tanjong Pagar Road, I distinctly heard they mentioned about Maxwell Road. Thinking that one of them might want to drop off at Maxwell Road, I then turned into the said road just in case. From Maxwell Road, I could always take one of the side roads to connect to Amara Hotel which is just nearby.
All of a sudden, the huge burly Caucasian seated in front started to shout and threaten me. He accused me of cheating him by taking Maxwell Road instead of Tanjong Pagar Road. He knew our roads better than me! I told him I had no intention to cheat him and that I could always give him a discount. No problem at all. He then accused me of lying and then started to hurl all kinds of verbal insults on me. Calling me idiot and stupid. A liar and a cheat! What a langgar situation! When he started to punch the front windscreen with both his bare hands continuously (3 to 5 times), I was shocked and frightened. I kept telling him to relax and cool down. I would send him there for free. No need to pay OK? At the same time I activated the panic button located next to the ignition key to alert my company Operations Control Centre.
From about 2149 hrs to 2200 hrs, for barely 10 mins especially the last few mins before 2200 hrs, I was in mortal fear of my life. I was so worried that he might just punch me on my face whilst I was at the steering wheel concentrating my driving on the road. Imagine he could smash the front windscreen with his bare hands and what would happen if he just decided to land his punches on my face? Controls immediately called my handphone. I asked the Chinese lady if she could speak Mandarin. I then told her in Mandarin there are “two ang mo in my taxi very aggressive and violent. They wanted to assault me. They already smashed my windscreen!” The nice Chinese lady asked me not to panic. They would call the police for me after I told her my location.
When I turned into Wallich Street, the front seated Caucasian then instructed me to stop and asked how much was the fare. It was $9 plus including the $3 city surcharge. He gave me $10 and walked away leaving me in a daze state. It was a traumatic experience.
It happened so fast within few mins but it seemed an eternity. Time stood still. Many thoughts came running to my mind and I went over my options in rapid speed. Should I just drive the taxi to Police CID at Cantonment Street which is just a short distance away or should I confront them when they were about to leave the scene as the police were on the way? I’ve read much about the many cases of taxi drivers assaulted by huge burly drunk Caucasians and I was afraid that I might be one of them. I did not want to be another statistic of such increasing number of cases. Should I snap a picture of him for the police to apprehend him? Fearing for my own safety, I just decided to let them go away. They simply walked away without saying another word!
At about 2210 hrs, the police finally arrived. Photos of the damaged windscreen were taken. My statement was recorded. After nearly an hour, at about 2300 hrs, I finally left the scene after having been advised by Controls to send the vehicle to Loyang Workshop immediately for repair. I had to stop plying for passengers.
Immediately I tried to contact the hirer who is on the 0300 hrs to 1500 hrs shift. He ought to be sleeping by then. Next, I called my mentor AT to brief him what happened. He was there when I needed his help most. Taxi Loh also tagged along to offer moral support. AT guided me on the procedures of sending the vehicle to the workshop. He said he would be waiting for me at Loyang Drive outside the workshop to assist me and then fetch me home. AT was waiting for me when I finally arrived and handed over the vehicle at about 2350 hrs.
When the hirer managed to call me, he said he would like to view the taxi. I drove to his place which is near to my home. I apologized profusely for causing inconvenience to him. But he was kind and understanding. Telling me that so long as I’m safe, there is no issue with his loss of earnings as the vehicle had to be in the workshop. The Chinese lady operator at Controls kept asking me if I was safe or any injuries sustained. She called me few times to check. She was also very kind and re-assuring.
I slept at about 3am today. I was waken at 9am by the workshop. I was told to get a copy of the police report and I had to report to Loyang for more reports. After I had lodged a police report and done the paper work at Loyang Workshop, it’s already 1300 hrs by the time I came home. My hirer and myself were at the workshop admin office. We were told that the windscreen costing about $2,000 would be replaced free of charge. I need not pay a single cent. This sort of cases happened about once every week. We could not claim any loss of income. It is just just bad luck that such thing happened to us. On the brighter side, there is no bodily hurt suffered by me.
Yes no physical harm to me? What about the mental anguish and injustice I suffered? As a citizen of this country, could my government protect me from such similar future trauma? My dignity and basic rights as a local born native of this land – my home and country are blatantly abused beyond repair – though the windscreen could be repaired! The Police classified the case as “Mischief”. They did not bother to ask for the video recording at all. They simply treated it as another case of simple mischief without any empathy at all. Do we still condone and allow all these foreign trash or barbarians to come to our country to abuse us like there is no “government” here? Obviously, one of them is working and living here at West Coast Crescent. Need I go further to quote all the cases involving foreigner monsters abusing locals whether taxi drivers or otherwise to highlight the issue?
My case is the latest hot topic amongst the twenty over taxi drivers in my neighborhood. They have decided to avoid picking up Caucasians unless they are in a family or with ladies. It is better to stay safe than sorry. After all, nobody will come to our aid if anything disastrous were to happen to us even though we are eking out a decent honest living trying very hard to survive in this most expensive city in the world! My latest experience reinforces that mindset when they heard previously so many horror stories about taxi drivers being assaulted by Caucasians!
People are impatient, short-fused and easily riled up. A Briton just walloped a taxi driver over a 20-dollar fare dispute, an American was jailed for punching another cabby and just recently, Donnino Rossetti, the owner of an Italian restaurant was also jailed for hitting yet another cabby. Poor taxi drivers in Singapore seem to kerna a lot these days.
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Gintai, sorry to hear what you went through and hope that you’re feeling better. Whether the person is a foreigner or not, he should be punished for his acts. I think bringing in the foreigner element isn’t relevant, but helps stir up support for you at the expense of many other foreigners who haven’t done anything wrong. The act should be judged separately of where the person comes from.
The fact that we can be out till 3am is proof that our laws do maintain order. You’re definitely entitled to feel trauma given the event you went through was terrible, but who could prevent these incidents from ever happening?
Hope you manage to get some rest, and that the courts be fair in their assessment of the crime.
I deeply regret what happend to you – I wouldn`t expect such an attack can happen in the Lion`s City.Happy, that you are not harmed physically. Unhappy, that the Police was unable to arrest the two bloody a……s. They should have investigated the Carlton or the Amara using the pictures you had taken. But I remember very well the reply of a police officer the time my iphone was stolen during an exhibition at Sing Expo: low crime doesn`t mean no crime.
I`ll be back in S`pore in June and will appreciate a ride with you …… and a pipe of course.
Munich / Kingdom of Bavaria / West Germany
Paste stickers in public – vandalism
Crack a windscreen with bare fist, mischief
it really depends whose glass you are cracking. Try one of a minister’s your crime will be attempted murder. A taxi driver’s life, like other common Singaporeans, is cheap.
All good that you are well. I will give U a magic spray when I see U again. It grants protection against evil and I will go more into details on its usage then. Meanwhile take care.
Finally your turn to experience the AMDK.
At the rate locals, especially taxi drivers are being bashed by these foreign barbarians who usually get off with a warning or a slap on the wrists, this country will soon be a tourist attraction as a place where you can bash someone and not pay a heavy price.
It’s about time that something drastic is done or else we as a nation would be scorned, spit at and bashed without mercy.
How about some of our $16k lawmakers proposing a bill in parliament to make it a felonious assault when locals, especially essential workers like taxi drivers are bashed. These barbarians know how to hide behind the outdated, archaic law and it just isn’t fair to locals, most of all to the taxi drivers who are just trying to earn a decent living putting food on the table.
I am just wondering why the taxi companies are not doing anything at all about some action changing the law.
Only when that happens will we see an improvement in how these barbarians view us, a pitiful lot to be kicked, spit at, and bashed.
Alan, first thing first, you are safe. God Bless you. Second, these buggers need to be caught and jailed. This is a case of vandalism and threat to life not mischief. Why did you agree for these charges ? Next time these kind of things happen, engage them till police arrive and ensure they are in jail. Of course this being the first time, I can understand the situation. Life is a good teacher. Stay Blessed my friend.
Sorry to learn about your ordeal while I’m in Nepal. Get some rest and I hope you’ll feel better soon. Catch up when I’m back.
Try not to pick fare at CQ, BQ, pubs and nite club after 3.30 am. Mostly, drunkards. Not worth the money. After midnight, you must be very alert, and observe who you pick up. Observe them carefully as you approach them, gut experience would tell you whether to pick them up or just drive off.
Never pick up chao ang moh (males) after midnight unless you want some excitement over fares
“The Police classified the case as “Mischief”. They did not bother to ask for the video recording at all. They simply treated it as another case of simple mischief without any empathy at all.” <– seriously ah? Maybe it's time to release your CCTV footage..
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Time to exercise cowboy justice in Singapore. Since the Singapore police force is quite useless, it’s time to bring in vigilantes. Perhaps a team of masked Batmen can come to the rescue of innocent citizens in Singotham City.
Just hope that the SPF will not suddenly take action against the hero Batmen, but let the culprit Jokers go free when the citizens rise up to protect themselves.
This govt we have has never been pro-active in protecting Singaporeans. They only come out during election to shed pitiful “tears” for our vote. Thereafter, the 60% daft sinkies will be sending this ministers grinning away to their fat banks.
Have faith with our police though. The fact that some are brought to justice shows not all is lost. Let them do their job and we, ours. I’m certain in time to come, you’ll see those that are good, foreigners or locals. Hopefully, there’s more good than bad.
Do take precautions for yourself though. I’m sure you’ll have lots of good mentors to guide you.
Mayb u should try to follow up?
As a rookie, you handled the dangerous situation very well. You could have been seriously assaulted. Take it as a “on the job training” and do not be discouraged. At the end of the day, we still need to feed our children. Like some jobs, a TD life is never easy. That barbarian will meet his equal one day somewhere else. Karma goes in a circle. Take care and drive safe, buddy.
High time for the law makers to change some policies. The Protection from Harassment Bill has just passed. Perhaps a “Protection from Bullies Bill” should be introduced.
Alan, hope you’ve recovered from the anguish you’d been through. You should post a clearer picture of the two caucasians
Frankly, enough is enough, rather than asking the government to make policies to protect it’s own people, which eventually will lead to some form of money being paid by us, the taxi’s should come together and do something to protect themselves.
I have 2 options which you as a voice leader could carry to the others,
1) just like in Australia, their taxi’s have a transparent shield fixed around, (L-shape) the driver only with a tiny slot open for the money to be given from passenger s or for change to be given back, this is to save guard the driver, some of their taxi’s even have an additional lock for them to escape without opening the other doors.
Such a safety shield could and can save you against the direct physical contact from anyone, the seat next to you as well as from behind.
2) Have an gas irritant to be fixed on all taxi’s, drivers that have to leave their cars can have this as protection, as with a blinded eye, injury will be drastically reduced to you guys.
Hope this help.
@Kaki, the taxi drivers here don’t own the cabs. It is up to the taxi companies to decide if they wanna fix up this “shields”. And very likely the costs would be passed down to the drivers as rental.
Basically I can’t answer the, “who owns the taxi”, with the rental at 100 (average) for 30 days, for 12 (1 year), times 10 years, a $S360 k is derived, the assumption of who owns the car is technical rather than ideal, but the option i gave is of choice, looking at safety, I do not have the flair of writing like gintai or red bean, neither do I have the galore of friends they have.
My suggestion can be a brain kicker for them or it can be rubbish by them, as for the cost, it’s down to what is more valuable, their lives or their cash, of course, it would be ideal for them not to pay. The cost is more towards the economy of scale, the more demand could and can bring down the cost.
My bottom line is rather than wait for snow to fall or for leaders that is sitting too high to be able to hear or see us, I would rather collectively make something to protect my self.
Unless you have better suggestions?
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