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'Why did you punch yourself?'

A cabby was being loudly and verbally abused by a passenger.

So local jazz singer Dawn Ho did what came instinctively - she stepped in and asked the attacker to stop.

In return, she got a bloody nose.

Her troubles started on Sunday evening, after she had just finished a performance with her band, Indigo, at the Sandbar on Sentosa Island.

While waiting for bandmate Munir Alsagoff to pick her up in his car, Miss Ho, 34, saw a man and two of his friends get into a limousine taxi.

On top of the regular taxi queue, there is a stand providing limousine taxi services at the Sentosa Beach Stop. These are luxury vehicles that charge a flat rate of $40 onwards.

The man, apparently unhappy with how much he had to pay, allegedly started yelling at the driver and the person manning the limousine stand, hurling vulgarities.

Miss Ho said the middle-aged driver was composed throughout the incident. He simply told the man that the prices were clearly displayed on a board next to the boarding area and that if the passenger was unhappy, he could get off the limousine and join the regular taxi queue.

ABUSE

But the man allegedly refused and continued hurling abuse at both the cabby and the staff manning the stand.

That was when Miss Ho stepped in.

"When you see people trying to make an honest living being spoken to in a demeaning manner, you feel like you should stand up for them," she said.

Telling the man that what he was doing was "not cool", she went on to say he did not have a right to speak to anyone that way.

Almost immediately, she became the target of the man's aggression and he allegedly started hurling abuse and vulgarities at her.

By then, Mr Munir had got out of his car. He tried to defuse the situation because he recognised the man as an acquaintance whom he identified as Mr Aaron Jeremiejczyk.

The New Paper understands that Mr Jeremiejczyk, an Australian, is a Singapore permanent resident.

Miss Ho then turned to get into Mr Munir's car while Mr Jeremiejczyk followed her, continuing to hurl abuse.

One of his friends, a woman, got out of the limousine and allegedly tried to attack Miss Ho with a beer bottle. As Mr Munir tried to hold the woman back, the bottle hit him on the nose.

Mr Jeremiejczyk then went up to Miss Ho, who was sitting in the car with the window down, and allegedly punched her in the face, giving her a bloodied nose.

Miss Ho claimed that he then taunted her, asking: "Why did you punch yourself?"

Police and paramedics soon arrived and took statements from both sides.

Miss Ho recounted the entire incident in a Facebook posting late on Monday night.

By last evening, there were 825 shares of her post, with 332 "Likes" and 169 comments.

SWELLING

Speaking to The New Paper before her performance at the Esplanade yesterday, Miss Ho said there was still some internal swelling on her face although there were no broken bones.

It would be difficult for Mr Munir and her to perform, but the duo said they would "persevere and get the show done".

She said she would be seeing a plastic surgeon today to check for any tissue damage as well as to get some anti-inflammation medication because her face was still swollen.

When asked if she would do the same if she faced another similar situation, Miss Ho paused for a while before saying she probably would.

She added that she would forgive her alleged attacker because "there's nothing to not forgive".

"Of course, a public apology would be good."

Sentosa Leisure Management's director of island operations Koh Piak Huat said frontline staff noticed the incident at about 9.20pm. They alerted island security, who got to the scene within five minutes.

He added that the matter has been handed over to the police for investigations.

Police confirmed the incident and said it has been classified as a case of voluntarily causing hurt. Investigations are ongoing.

He quits job after incident

Just two days after the fight, the man who was allegedly involved in the quarrel, Mr Aaron Jeremiejczyk resigned from his marketing position with The Exchange, a food and beverage establishment.

He handed in his resignation after he was suspended following an internal investigation into the incident between him and Miss Dawn Ho, according to a statement from Tadcaster Hospitality, the holding company of The Exchange.

A statement from the company said: "The alleged incident... occurred on his personal time, during his day off from work, and was in no way linked with Tadcaster Hospitality."

While Miss Ho has called him "an obnoxious guy" and netizens are deriding his behaviour, Mr Jeremiejczyk's friend says that this incident is a complete shock.

His friend, who did not want to be named, said: "What happened recently was totally out of character for Aaron. That was not the Aaron I know."

His friend, who has known Mr Jeremiejczyk for almost 15 years, also said: "He is a very genuine friend who is friendly and approachable."

He also added that he has never known Mr Jeremiejczyk to be a heavy drinker.

"He always hangs around with Singaporeans and he can even speak some Malay and Mandarin."

Attempts to reach Mr Jeremiejczyk on his mobile phone yesterday were unsuccessful.

Driver too scared to move

The stocky, medium-built cabby watched helplessly as Mr Aaron Jeremiejczyk swung a punch at Miss Dawn Ho.

Mr Justin Tan, 55, a limo driver with SMRT, told The New Paper last night: "I felt so guilty and sad that she got hurt because of me.

"I was scared so I couldn't be of much help. I did not want to get hurt. So all I could do was call the police."

Mr Tan said the trouble began when Mr Jeremiejczyk and two of his friends could not get a taxi.

They then approached the staff manning the limousine stand to hire a limo taxi.

The staff member and Mr Jeremiejczyk had agreed on a fare of $43 to get to Orchard Boulevard. However, when they got into his taxi, they began to bargain, Mr Tan alleged.

"They wanted to pay just $20 for the ride. How could they do that? They already agreed on the fare," he said.

Mr Tan said he then told them politely to alight and flag another taxi instead.

But Mr Jeremiejczyk refused and allegedly started hurling vulgarities at him. When he got out, Mr Jeremiejczyk, too, got out and according to the cabby, started kicking his vehicle.

STOP SHOUTING

That was when Miss Ho appeared and told Mr Jeremiejczyk to stop shouting at Mr Tan.

"I'm extremely grateful for her help. She was the only one who helped me when I was in need," said Mr Tan, adding that there were several people, including other limo drivers, around.

Mr Ricky Milleza, 43, who coordinates the limousine service at Sentosa's Beach station, said it is not uncommon to get rude responses from customers who enquire about the service.

The $43 flat rate, which takes passengers to any destination in Singapore, is not negotiable. There is an additional $10 for each additional stop and a $12 midnight charge.

The large limo taxis can take up to seven people.

He said: "About three in 10 customers would be rude and some even spew vulgarities. Sometimes it can be dangerous when you get drunk customers, especially late at night."

But there is nothing much he can do about it.

He said: "I have to bear with it because this is my job. So we have to keep our cool when dealing with them."

Mr Milleza was not on duty on Sunday night when the fracas happened.