SINGAPORE - Free taxi rides are unheard of, but cabby Ang Yeow Chuan gives them to those who need them the most.
For the past 23 years, the 59-year-old has waived fares for the elderly, the needy and the disabled. He even drives to dialysis centres to give free rides to patients who had just finished their sessions.
"I don't like to see people sad, so as long as I can help, I will," he said.
Mr Ang was one of three transport-service workers who were given the Kindness Champion award at this year's National Kindness Awards.
The accolade is richly deserved.
Earlier this year, Mr Ang picked up a passenger in his late 20s. When he found out that his passenger was working and studying part-time, the ComfortDelGro cabby immediately offered to give him a discount.
He even made a detour so that the passenger could buy supper. "It must be tough on him (to be a part-time student who's working)," he explained.
Mr Ang, who is married with two sons, shrugs off the loss of income when he gives free rides and discounts. "I live each day at a time. I don't think of the consequences (of helping people)," he said.
Yesterday's award ceremony at the Kallang Theatre also honoured two other Kindness Champions: Senior Bus Captain D. Suppiramaniam, who was recognised for his exemplary track record and excellent customer service, and Transit Link customer-service officer Roliah Aswat, who returned a parcel left at her counter to its rightful owner.
The award, which is now in its 14th year, paid tribute to a record of 425 transport-service personnel.
Speaking at the ceremony, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo noted that service staff also need supportive commuters, "because it is not easy to keep to high service levels when faced with commuters who are consistently unappreciative or sometimes even uncivil".
"Instead of blaming one another, we should ask how we can be helpful to one another," she said.
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