It is a tough job that dishes out its share of unexpected punches. Such is the nature of driving a taxi, said cabbies whom TNP spoke to on Tuesday.
Comfort taxi driver Haniff Mahbob, 60, said it was difficult for drivers to protect themselves from rogue passengers, as they never know when an attack is about to happen.
"(Some) of these passengers sit behind us and suddenly react in a violent manner by throwing punches or using the seat belt to hit us.
"The police's firm action and severe punishments are the only ways to deter such uncivilised behaviour."
CityCab taxi driver Harry Ng, 55, had similar sentiments. Said Mr Ng: "In our job, we face different types of passengers every day who can be very good or very nasty."
He said that to deal with violent passengers, his taxi comes equipped with panic buttons that would signal to the company that the driver needs help.
Even then, there's little he can do to prevent a passenger from turning violent.
"It is part and parcel of our driving job," said Mr Ng.
But the executive adviser of the National Taxi Association, Mr Ang Hin Kee, does not believe violence should be accepted as a normal occurrence.
"We are saddened by cases where our drivers, while providing a public transport service, are abused by a minority," said the Ang Mo Kio GRC MP, who is also a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport.
He added: "Enforcement actions are necessary and serve as a strong signal to those who misbehave.
"It is not an unreasonable request to ask for protection for this group of drivers who ply the roads day and night to earn a living."
That view was shared by Mr Ng.
"We are just working hard to make a living. There is no need to resort to violence of this nature," he said.
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