Sunday 18 March 2012

A Tragedy At Budget Terminal

Ah Lam is my taxi buddy. He is a slim, soft speaking man of few words and seldom open his mouth unless spoken to. He is 57 years old and lives with his wife and two grown up children at Tampines St 32.. He has been a taxi driver for almost 15 years and never had any trouble with his passengers. He always try his best to accommodate his passengers demands and had a clean driving record. Unfortunately, this morning, he had an encounter with a violent passenger that resulted in a tragic lost of a life - not his nor his passenger but a innocent third party's life.

This is what actually happened on that fateful morning, as he related to me over the phone a short while ago.

At around 5am this morning, Ah Lam picked up this 30-something China national at Still Road to the Budget Terminal at Singapore Changi Airport. He looked like an ordinary guy on his way home to China after slotting his life here. He talked happily about his work experience here and was looking forward to his impending holiday back home.

He sat beside Ah Lam and did not smelt of liquor. He was a perfect passenger until they were about a kilometre to the airport. He suddenly became "crazy" and accused Ah Lam of "stealing" his things. Though Ah Lam explained to him politely that was impossible as they were always side by side the whole trip, he turned violent and punched Ah Lam a few times at his neck and left ear. Ah Lam was terrified and activated his "emergency button" inside the taxi before stopping and getting out of his taxi just outside the SATS In-flight Catering Center 1. This China guy got out of the taxi too and confronted Ah Lam to return the "stolen" stuffs. Not happy with Ah Lam's denial, he kicked him at his groin and Ah Lam fell to the ground. He wanted to continue his attacks but was stopped immediately by a few airport workers who were at the scenes. Luckily for Ah Lam, those workers were there waiting for transport to bring them home after their night shift. Without their intervention, Ah Lam could have been grievously hurt.

Like a person possessed by "spirit", the China national shockingly hijacked the taxi and speed away towards the airport terminal. Ah Lam was left on the ground, stunned and speechless. He deeply regretted that he forgot to remove the taxi ignition key when he abandoned his taxi. He was probably dazed from the assault to his head and did not have the presence of mind to do that sensible thing. I must remember never to leave my cab without my ignition key. It could save a life.!

It was reported in all the major news media that shortly after driving off the taxi towards the direction of the airport terminal, the Chinese national hit a cleaner on duty along the driveway and killed him instantly. He also crashed the taxi into the glass slide door next to the fast food restaurant "McDonald" and damaged a traffic light. The taxi is a big, 2,300cc Hyandai Sonota, with automatic transmission and it's not easy to handle, especially for someone who had never driven an automatic transmission car.

Police have arrested the Chinese national, who was detained by passerby as he tried to run away after the accident. He will probably be charged with manslaughter and spent many years behind bar. The dead man is Mr. Chandra Mogan, a Malaysian, living in Johor with a wife and 4 small children aged between 3 months and 10 years old.  Sigh..sigh...My deepest condolences to this poor, poor  family. I pray the family would get some compensation from the company he worked for.

As for my buddy, Ah Lam. He suffered some minor injuries and was given out-patient treatment at Changi Hospital. At the moment, he has nothing to worry but must be prepared for many visits to the various police stations and his company to assist in their investigation into the incident. He must also attend court hearings and trials at later dates. He had to do all these at his own expenses, without reimbursements, whatsoever. He'll gets nothing in return for all his "troubles", except a pleasant thought that he's still alive today. This is the reality of a taxi driver's job.

As cabby, we either take the frequent complaints, harassments, insults, abuses and perils of the job in our stride, or quit to become security guards or cleaners. At our advance age, it's extremely difficult to find another suitable job in Singapore, especially when our floodgate is wide open for cheap foreign workers to compete with us in all sectors of our economy, except vocational taxi driving. But for how long will the protection of this vocation continue, nobody knows. Sooner or later, indigenous Singapore taxi drivers will end up like bus drivers, their job taken over by foreigners. So, in the meantime, we should be grateful that we still have a job, albeit "precarious and stressful".         

The badly damaged taxi at the airport terminal.

A ChannelNewsAsia video link. (Here)
P/S :
1. This afternoon, Channel News Asia reported that the China national has been charged with voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery and will probably be sentenced to between 5 to 20 years and with at least 12 strokes of the cane. The charges were read out to the suspect this morning at his hospital bed. He is lucky to escape a manslaughter charge with entail a life imprisonment. 
2. For visitors who want to help the victim's family, please follow this Link (Here)
3. Latest news report (March 23, 2012) of charges against the China national (Here
4. Latest news report (April 15, 2013) PRC sentenced to 25 months jail (LinK)


Anonymous said...

Dear Cabby55... I understand Mr Lam's situation... I myself am at lose, for a friend, a colleague that is so friendly, caring, lovable passed away just like that. When I heard the news, I rushed down to my work place which is Budget Terminal itself, and was shocked to see the aftermath of the incident. This was caused by the PRC that thinks he owns this place. FYI, I heard that most of the passerby and other passenger actually whacked the PRC when he tried to flee. I do hope that the PRC gets a harsher punishment. As for Mr Lam, do ask him to take it slow and easy. It all happened too fast... Send my regards to him.

Thank You.

Shou Karasuma
Budget Terminal
Changi Airport

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Shou Karasuma,

I can feel that you're a great friend of the victim from the msg in your FB and here. Please send my deepest condolences to Mr. Morgon's wife and family. May he rest in peace. Regards : James Lim

Anonymous said...

This is so very sad...The victim's wife can try to sue the Chinese national for compensation, although it will be difficult to enforce.

Anonymous said...

This is mess up. The PRCs are causing a lot of trouble in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

ONE Chinese national who appears to have been mentally unsound at the time of the incident.
ONE, not all PRCs.

Let's be careful about that.

Anonymous said...

Yes not all PRCs but most of them. They come to Singapore and they act like they were born here and Singapore is a part of China. Rude,loud and irritating. You can hear them everywhere from like a mile away. There is just too many of them coming into Singapore and they are just getting too comfortable. Something should be done.

Anonymous said...


Voluntarily causing hurt

A person causes hurt when he or she causes bodily pain, disease or infirmity to any person.[55]

Whoever does any act with the intention of causing hurt to any person, or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause hurt to any person, and does cause hurt to any person, voluntarily causes hurt.[56]

The penalty for voluntarily causing hurt is imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to S$1,000, or both.[57]

Voluntarily causing grievous hurt

The following kinds of hurt only are designated as "grievous":
(a) emasculation;
(b) permanent privation of the sight of either eye;
(c) permanent privation of the hearing of either ear;
(d) privation of any member or joint;
(e) destruction or permanent impairing of the powers of any member or joint;
(f) permanent disfiguration of the head or face;
(g) fracture or dislocation of a bone;
(h) any hurt which endangers life, or which causes the sufferer to be, during the space of 20 days, in severe bodily pain, or unable to follow his ordinary pursuits.[58]

Whoever voluntarily causes hurt, if the hurt which he intends to cause or knows himself to be likely to cause is grievous hurt, and if the hurt which he causes is grievous hurt, is said "voluntarily to cause grievous hurt".[59]

The punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt is imprisonment of up to seven years, and also fine or caning.[60]

anybody can tell me how does the reported "5 to 20 years jail sentence" come about??

is the police or the reporter smoking?

Anonymous said...

Hi Cabby65,
Thank you for your story and your friend's Ah Lam.
It's a sad day for all involved.
My suspicion on the behaviour of the PRC is robbery for quick cash since he's leaving Singapore and untraceable, but it went foul and he panic.

Life is tough now, hang in there.

dan said...

hurt or grievous hurt was inflicted to the taxi man (ah lam). manslaughter was the result of his reckless and neglience that cause a man to die... isn't that very clear?

Anonymous said...

I heard from a friend who always travel to China; the PRC behaviour is to intimidate you so that you pay him for 'causing trouble'; they did this to many foreigners/tourists in China to scare them. Your above story is similar behaviour of a PRC intimidation, my guess he wanted to get money from Ah Lam, thus, accusing Ah Lam of stealing his things. PRC knows Singaporeans are scared of them and willing to pay to avoid police case; but luckily Ah Lam is feisty and raised the alarm. PRC had no where to run (no buses), thus, hijack the cab.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir, you must be that PRC cabby with a PhD forced to drive a taxi because you were let go by research company. What piques my interest is the number of spelling mistakes in your post, in particular "Tampinese". During you studies in the universities and in the course of work, did you lack the opportunity to practise the language, or were you kept in the company of fellow Chinese speakers?

Anonymous said...

I am not an expert in the English language here but don't you think that your language is not that fantastic too? Think we need to look at our own ability first before we make nasty comments about other people. He is just blogging about what happened to his buddy driver and tell the world the problem he or many taxi drivers encounter at work. I think there is nothing wrong with that.

Gintai_昇泰 said...

Yes correct. If his English is perfect he will be an English teacher instead if driving a taxi. So what's the big deal? We can understand perfectly what he is saying. That is the important part.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 19 March 2012 11:03 ,
I heard something similar about a year ago, I dismissed it as just a case of bad-mouthing the PRCs. I guess that could be some truth in it. All taxi drivers please take note.

Anonymous said...

Actually you are wrong to say that CHINESE passenger will be locked up for many years. He may probably be jailed for 1 day.