Uber driver in fight with LTA officer: "I've never felt so helpless"

Uber driver in fight with LTA officer: "I've never felt so helpless"
PHOTO: The New Paper

Even though he lay on the rough asphalt road in defeat, he still felt kicks and punches.

Teary-eyed, Uber car driver Goh Kok Ling, 59, said: "I've never felt so helpless before."

It was clear, he said, that he had lost the fight.

To be hit when he was down - that was what hurt the most, said the father of two.

On Friday night, a Facebook update from Mr Goh's passenger, Miss Amber Pek, went viral. She detailed a fight between Mr Goh and a Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement officer and uploaded a video.

In the video, Mr Goh is seen to be looming over the officer in what appears to be a confrontation. Soon, it escalates and the officer throws the first punch.

The men scuffle and Mr Goh falls to the floor and is then kicked by the officer. The fight is broken up by a passer-by.

"I think if it were not for (the passer-by), my head might have been hit and I would be dead," Mr Goh said last night.

Mr Goh said it happened at 7.30pm at the Bugis Junction taxi stand.

He said the officer had been shouting at him and other drivers in the area, warning them that only taxis were allowed to stop there.

When Mr Goh stopped momentarily to allow his passenger, Miss Pek, to board his silver Toyota, the officer came up to his window to give him a warning.

As he was turning out, he noticed the officer taking pictures of his vehicle.

This enraged Mr Goh, who admits to getting out of his car and hurling vulgarities at the officer.

He said: "Why was he taking pictures of my car when he already gave the warning?

"So I got out of my car and told him he could take my details. I had nothing to hide."

IN PAIN

Despite cuts in his mouth and in pain after the incident, he dropped Miss Pek off at her destination before heading to a police post to make a report.

There, an ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital.

Miss Pek declined to comment further when contacted yesterday.

LTA responded to the incident on Facebook at about 12.15am yesterday, saying that the officer had been suspended from all duties.

Later, it said that it would be providing assistance to Mr Goh, including the cost of his medical bills.

The police have since arrested the 50-year-old LTA officer for affray.

Mr Goh was nursing a swollen cheek and complained of pain in his ribs when TNPS visited him at his three-room flat in Ang Mo Kio last night.

He had lost a tooth and some of his other teeth were wobbly.

Uber Singapore said it was "disturbed" by the incident.

A spokesman said: "We appreciate the LTA's swift response to suspend the officer and initiate a formal investigation, and trust that appropriate action will be taken to ensure justice is delivered."

TNPS approached the deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, Mr Ang Hin Kee, for his views on the incident. "We need to ensure our LTA enforcement officers keep on getting proper advisory and training. Of course, we do not condone violence of any sort," he said.

Mr Ang, who is also the National Taxi Association (NTA) adviser, said: "The enforcement officers were just doing their job, and the majority of times they do conduct themselves properly. Some handle their job better than others, but it is not fair to say all enforcement officers are like that."

Mr Goh said he wants to give up driving, but his wife of 32 years says that their household is still heavily dependent on Mr Goh's driving income of about $80 a day.

"I don't want him to drive again, but we also need the money. I don't know what to do now," Mrs Alice Goh, 55, said.

When told that the LTA officer had been arrested, Mr Goh said he is happy to let the matter rest.

He added: "His arrest cannot undo what happened to me, but at least I feel better knowing that he will not be hurting people any more".


This article was first published on November 29, 2015.
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