Bus driver gives different account

WITNESS: Mr Lee Kim Huat, 55, the bus driver.

LITTLE INDIA RIOT COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY

The bus driver at the centre of the Little India riot was the second witness to appear on the stand during Thursday's inquiry.

But Mr Lee Kim Huat, who has the alias Lim Hai Tiong, gave a different account of what happened that day from timekeeper Wong Geck Woon, 38.

Both were trapped in the same bus as rioters surrounded it, throwing stones, flower pots, drain covers and beer bottles through the bus windows.

Here is what each said:

WHY WAS THE VICTIM TOLD TO ALIGHT?

What she said:
Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu had jumped the queue and boarded the bus, leading other workers to complain to her that it was unfair and that he was drunk.

It was only after she heard from Mr Lee, 55 , about the drunk passenger taking off his trousers that Madam Wong started trying to get him to alight.

She sought the help of a male foreign worker at the front of the queue to check if Mr Sakthivel had really pulled his trousers down.

Video footage from the bus showed the man boarding and gesticulating to Mr Sakthivel to alight, but he did not respond.

Madam Wong then boarded the bus to get him to alight and said she had to "raise her voice" to do so. He complied and alighted after that, carrying an umbrella.

What he said:
Madam Wong had shouted at Mr Sakthivel to get off the bus when he boarded, Mr Lee said in his statement. This was before she enlisted the help of a foreign worker.

And Mr Lee did not notice if Mr Sakthivel had taken off his trousers when he was on the bus, he said in his statement.

He only thought Mr Sakthivel was drunk based on his unsteady gait and that he had slipped while boarding the bus. He also did not notice Mr Sakthivel carrying anything.

HOW DID THEY END UP IN THE BUS?

What she said:An Indian man wearing a checkered shirt, dubbed by many as the Little India Hero, had gone to her and Mr Lee's aid as the crowd grew angry.

"He asked me to quickly board the bus," said Madam Wong.

She added that she did not know why she was told to go up the bus.

At that time, she said Mr Lee was using his mobile phone on the bus steps. Both entered the empty bus. She asked Mr Lee to close the bus door as the Little India Hero had told them to do so.

What he said:
The man in the checkered shirt had threatened to punch me, said Mr Lee at first. He described him as a big-sized Indian man who grabbed him by the shirt collar.

Said Mr Lee: "I sensed the crowd moving towards me aggressively. As I was feeling scared at this point, I asked Xiao Mei (his nickname for Madam Wong) to board the bus with me."

He quickly closed the door after they were both on board.

He only realised that the man in the checkered shirt had tried to protect the two of them after seeing the video footage on Thursday.

WAS IT RAINING?

What she said:
She wore a raincoat and a cap, and held an umbrella as it was raining.

What he said:
He said it was neither raining nor drizzling at first.

He later remembered that it was raining after he was shown video footage of people carrying umbrellas.

ngjunsen@sph.com.sgt


Get The New Paper for more stories.

VIDEOS TO WATCH

SERVICES