I’m not ashamed to honestly admit it. I was scared. Scared not like seeing a ghost, having a gun pointed at my head or a knife at my throat, but a chill through my spine and a knot in my stomach kind of scared.
Last evening, I was alone cruising at normal speed of 80kmh along PIE near Toa Payoh towards Steven Road exit. With pleasant thoughts of Gulin's scenic mountains from a recent holiday there, I was unfortunately not at the proper lane of the expressway. I was incorrectly at the extreme right lane meant for overtaking vehicle, for a longer than necessary period of time. Okay, I made a mistake and should have taken the middle or extreme left lane.
A sporty red Mazda RX8 at my tail flashed at me several times with his 100watt spotties and drew closer almost to the point of hitting me. I wasn’t intimidated as this was something I have experienced several times during my 40 years of driving. I peeked in my mirror and caught the male driver showing me his middle finger. I just slowed down a bit and immediately set my signal to turn left for him to overtake. I thought he would do that. Instead, he simultaneously overtook me at my left as I was also turning left. We almost collided at the side.
He was either really pissed off or just wired wrong in the head as he suddenly stopped in the middle of the busy expressway infront of me. I slammed my brake to avoid a certain rear collision. To my astonishment, he got out of his sporty and rushed towards me like a tiger going for a kill. He came to my side, exposing himself to extreme dangers of other speeding motorists and shouted at me with trembling anger like about to eat me up.
He was tall and big of at least a 100kg, in his early thirties. His T-shirt was about to burst under his muscular body and his fists were clenched, ready to crack my side windows. He was a fierce, "thuggish" looking" man on all counts, with acne scars face, burning eyes and tattooed arms. His young girlfriend remained in the sporty.
I sensed he was going to smash my window with whatever he had and threw punches at my face. And true enough, he started to punch my side window with his bare fist. That was the point I got really scared. With trembling hands, I took off my spectacles and made sure my windows and doors were tightly closed. I held on to my breath and waited for the window to crack.
Fortunately, after a few painful blows that didn't crack my window, he stood there, screaming Hokkien vulgarities at me and wetting my window with his saliva. To stay alive, I kept quiet like a church mouse hoping the cat won't eat me up and leave me alone. A few second later, satisfied with his verbal and fistful blows and kicks at my taxi, he headed back to his car, spitting as he moved along. Not wanting to be part of his crazy game and glad that I had avoided a near death threatening situation, I speed off before he got into his car. Soon, I calmed my nerves inside a petrol station at Steven Road with a puff.
It’s one thing to flash your lights at someone or tailgate them to scare them a little but to actually threaten physical harm at a person for a mere mistake of road hogging is senseless. In my situation, maybe he thought I wanted to drive him off the road with my "provocative" change of lane.
I wondered just how far this guy was prepared to go to get his revenge and satisfied his ego. I was to find out soon enough.
To my bewilderment, he followed me into the petrol station. As I stood trembling in shock, he threw a single hard blow at my tummy and left with these parting word....."Not Happy, Find Me".
"Ough" was the only reply I could give. The excruciating pain in my tummy left me breathless for a second. I've never been beaten or got into a fight with anyone in my entire life. The momentary tummy pain was an unforgettable sensation.
The burly guy was a bully and I was the aggravated party. Surely, I should lodge a police report and get the bully to serve time behind bars. I've a pump attendant as my witness and all details of his sporty. But I didn't. You may ask why. Please let me share with you my explanation from my perspective.
I'm aware that our honorable judges proclaim that transport workers must be protected against thugs on the road at all time and many road rage offenders were sentenced to various jail terms in Singapore ((Link) . Most of you out there would say that this guy is dangerous and must be taught a lesson, so that others would not get hurt in future. Be a responsible vigilante, get him behind bars and make our roads safer. Like a gladiator in a Roman Colosseum, I can hear my audience prompting me to slaughter my defeated opponent.
Now, call me whatever you like, a coward, a selfish fence-sitter or a disgrace but I know myself as someone who don't look for "trouble" when trouble don't look for me. Yes, I suffered emotional injustice and perhaps a dent on my ego. But most importantly, I didn't suffered any grievous injuries from this horrifying encounter. No dangerous weapon or instruments were used to cause serious injuries. I suffered only a blow to my tummy (not my face) and I can live with that.
If I had lodge a police report, I would have to spend many hours writing statements at police posts, attending identifying criminal parades and court proceedings. Who pay for my wasted hours and what do I get at the end of the day. Nothing, perhaps only a sense of satisfaction. I have to make a living and this Government do not help me to pay for my family meals when I'm not working.
On the other hand, if I had been seriously injured, I would lodge a police report without hesitation. Therefore, whether to lodge a police report or not, depend on the seriousness of the situation and injuries. I'm clear on this distinction.
For the interest of my readers, here is a link that clears the air on "Section 323 - Voluntarily Causing Hurt" under the Singapore Penal Code. (Link)
In the same vein, recently a HongKong taxi driver endured a six-month lawsuit after overcharging a passenger by mere 50 Hong Kong cents (6 US cents). He finally had his name cleared and walked free after his case was thrown out by the court but was left questioning the city's justice system. Given the trivial nature of the case, it was considered a wastes of Hong Kong people's money and time.
Yesterday, a video of a 29-year old intern being physically abused by his superior has gone viral. The police and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) have been notified (link). Was it the right thing to the post the video and the parent's claim of $100,000 as compensation? What would be the outcome and punishment?
Similarly, taxi drivers here have always been in the firing line for all sorts of complaints like taking "wrong" routes resulting in perceived overcharging and cheating passengers and have received fines and bans on taxi driving as punishment. Whether the punishment equates the seriousness of the offence is always debatable.
When I was in primary school, I was once punched in the stomach by the discipline master (guess something to do with a complaint from a perfect) while the classes were dismissed from school hall and walking to the classrooms.
My family did not take up the issue further (many many years ago), but I can still remember the ugly hand/ face. After some time, the discipline master (or maybe look-alike) strangely appeared in tv as a billiard player?
I respect and understand your decision not to report it, but I would like to offer a counterpoint anyway:
Letting this road bully get away with something like this, will only embolden him to do worse the next time. While you may have been safe this time, the next guy (who could be another taxi driver, like you) might suffer more than just a bruised tummy and ego. Indirectly, you may just have made the roads in SG less safe by letting this bully stay on the roads.
No, this shouldn't be about you anymore. This man is dangerous and even if he didn't hurt you, he will hurt someone else in soon future. As a responsible person, you should report this incident.
It could very well be given his lack of control and dangerous driving he die on the street. So many possibilities but the risk is on him. For he is one and we are many.
The fool here is his girl friend. Wrong man. Really wrong man. Who knows when he will beat her? She should go report him! Of course that's not likely.
At least post his photo for all to see, surely you have a dash board camera since he is stupid enough to stop in front of you. If I am not mistaken there it is law saying you cannot stop on a express way, your dash board camera footage is enough for him to ganna summon. All without you needed to be present.
James, what you have just done is a selfish act. You hope that that a future someone else (1) would go to the trouble of reporting him; (2) wastes his own times instead of yours at the police station.
What if it is someone you know or love deeply that meet this bully in future and ended up comatose? I hope you will be able to sleep well then.
I survived the big blow (at least mentally), but not sure related to my slightly out-of-shape lower rib cage.
If you need, go for a medical checkup at polyclinic first (before go to police station)?
Now we can understanding how that intern felt. Are you goings down that slippery path too? What do you see in the mirror everyday after that? How would you explain this to the kids? Turn the other cheek again?
To All My Dear Readers,
Thanks for all your comments and advices, most of which were to encourage me to report the bully to the police.
I wish to humbly reiterate that if I had been seriously injured or dangerous weapons or instruments were used during the confrontation, I would lodge a police report without hesitation. No serious injuries were inflicted on me and I’m prepared live with the indignation or whatever you may wish to call it.
I’m not a PAP supporter and NEVER will be.
God Bless All of You.
James Lim – 4.30am
i read and can understand the situation u were in as its not uncommon these days. But road rage, stopping and confront people, physical contact, taking law into your own hands can NEVER be tolerated.
Better still if u have in car camera that took down whole footage.
Imagine he had dent your car door by kicking it, are you going to pay for the damages? What if that blow to you cause later internal injuries, what are you going to do?
26 May 2013
Sunday Times front page
One road rage attack every 4 days in Singapore
My father is a taxi driver too, and reading this blog entry really troubles me (I'm leaving this comment hours after I've read the entry, because I simply can't get it out of my mind).
I fear that my father who has recently had heart surgery and is already back on the road, might meet a road rage bully like the one you met. A punch to the torso might well be fatal. I worry that some other taxi driver or road user in lesser health might also be endangered because of such thuggish behaviour.
I beseech you to report this. To point a middle finger or make some rude gesture is one thing, but to come down and physically attack another driver is something that should be stopped.
In Singapore, it's you die your own problem. Why should James report it for future people to be rid of this road rager? Why must he waste his time? Why must he relive his misery for all of you?
It is very selfish to have the mentality that "you die your own problem", and it is not an acceptable excuse by saying we do that because this is Singapore. Such thinking is ugly anywhere.
People are asking for James to report it because he had the misfortune to encounter this guy. Wrongdoings should not go uncensured (or in my mind, bastards should get kicked in the proverbial balls by the law, since it is illegal to do so ourselves). He could well meet him again, or another road rager, who has no qualms about doing greater damage. It is not only for the greater good, but also for his personal good.
If the road rager goes unpunished, it would encourage him to be extremely aggressive on the road, by virtue of his fists. And one day, you might meet him too.
Can I offer a suggestion James? You don't have to report him if you are not up to it. Shame him by putting his picture and car plate number on STOMP. And here on your blog, you have thousands of readers!
The question is will a police report get our authories to investigate and charge the offender under the penal code or would the complainant need to start a civil suit for justice to be served. A civil suit means getting your own legal advisor ($$, time, witnesses, doctor's reports etc).
I am guessing that many here have not experienced our judicial system in this aspect. A police report might not legally get this bully off the streets, especially when no one was grievously hurt.
Mr Lim, I agree with some of the commentors here, it is quite a different story when s road bully actually physically punch you. I've only once come across one pretty crazed road bully who did the same thing as you described; almost crashed into my car just to pull a middle finger at me... and we are in a bumper to bumper traffic jam.(making it very difficult for me to lane change) I understand your live and let live thought, but can you at least make a police report on this driver so that at least he is on file, that way if there's other victims, there would be a record of his road bullying history. If I were in your situation, I would constantly worry that one day i would read about the same road bully seriously injure another on the newspaper.
In any decent country, a taxi driver would have his Union to help him in these matters.
After all, helping one taxi driver will prevent this bully from harming all the rest of their union members.
Sigh! Unfortunately in Singapore, the unions do not work for the workers.
I believe we should respect James' decision not to report it. If it was your own family member, think carefully, would you really report it? a member who could possibly from the triads or someone really rich with power and influence, who knows what consequences can come out of it? You'll be in the limelight, whether for being a hero or loser, whichever it is. But then the whole world will know you and your family will also be unwillingly thrown into the saga. Wasted time and money spent on fighting the case, and also the possibility of your family members being dragged down and hurt..
There isn't always only one correct way. Every action can be a right and wrong at the same time. And multiple "right" ways exist for each situation, depending on which perspective you take.
This isn't about customer running off without paying, or just scolding you in a fit of anger. In those cases, writing it off as bad luck is acceptable. The guy who followed you to punch you is dangerous and a sociopath.
In the future, when someone you hold dearly meet the same road rage guy, and wasn't lucky enough to escape with just a bruised ego, you would have wished that you had done the right thing when you had the chance.
The problem is that even if you have genuine video footage of the road rage/ offence, the relevant authority (LTA/ police/ ...) may still be unreluctant to act base on the evidence alone when there is no serious mishap (with common people left unprotected).
For my school punching incident, the discipline master most likely had been make use by the prefect (by adding salt/ vinegar), so did the abusive punishment in public area and in front of many students (probably seen by some teachers as well).
Albert Einstein: "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."
Just a suggestion: You ought to report this (1) menacing threat and (2) actual road rage to the Police. Give the bully's car registration number, time/date and specific location. There may be security cameras around if your taxi didn't have one of those installed on the dashboard.
Think about the next person who may not be as lucky as you, eh?
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