Witness persuaded to do "the right thing"
Trial of cabby accused of hurting passenger & providing false information to police
When a newspaper report of an altercation between a taxi driver and a man differed from what he had witnessed, Mr Roslan Zainal was reluctant to report it because he did not want to get involved in the affairs of others.
But his friend, Mr Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood, persuaded him to do the right thing.
Mr Roslan, a driver, relented and yesterday took the stand in the case of the cabby who had allegedly hit Mr Arne Corneliussen, 51, a Norwegian.
Chan Chuan Heng, 47, is on trial for voluntarily causing hurt and providing false information to the police.
Mr Corneliussen, a Singapore permanent resident, had been sentenced to 10 weeks' jail last year.
He had pleaded guilty to causing hurt by grabbing Chan's neck and choking him after a night of drinking in September 2014.
But Mr Roslan and Mr Ayub came forward weeks later and claimed that it was Chan, and not Mr Corneliussen, who was the aggressor.
By then, Mr Corneliussen had already served more than half of his 10-week sentence.
His guilty plea and sentence were quashed and the case was sent back to the State Courts for a retrial.
Mr Corneliussen was fined $2,000 for a lesser charge of causing hurt by wrapping his arm around the cabby's neck.
Yesterday, on the second day of Chan's trial, Mr Roslan told the court: "(Mr Ayub) wanted to make a report and said that it wasn't right (the differing accounts)... Mr Ayub told me to think about it and put yourself in the shoes of (Mr Arne Corneliussen)."
The duo had witnessed the altercation at the Boat Quay area at around 1am on Sept 22, 2014.
But they were concerned when the account of the incident in The New Paper differed from what they had seen.
Recounting that night, Mr Roslan said in court that he had been trying to hail a cab with his friend Mr Ayub at the intersection of Circular Road and North Canal Road, when he heard a smacking sound.
He turned around and Mr Ayub told him a cabby had hit a Caucasian man.
Mr Roslan was across the road from where the two men were and could see Chan standing behind a parked cab.
"I couldn't see (Mr Corneliussen), but I saw the taxi driver standing there, so I stepped forward (onto the road) to get a better view," he said.
Mr Roslan then saw Mr Corneliussen squatting on the ground behind the cab, covering his head with both hands. Chan was also standing there, hands on his hips and nodding.
He said Mr Corneliussen stood up unsteadily and said, "Why did you hit me?"
The scuffle between Mr Corneliussen and the cabby started soon after, said Mr Roslan.
"(Mr Corneliussen) grabbed the man... Some people tried to intervene and pull (Mr Corneliussen) away," he said.
After that, Mr Corneliussen walked away and the taxi driver was left sitting on the ground, said Mr Roslan, who left the scene shortly after.
Earlier in court yesterday, Mr Ayub was cross-examined by Chan's lawyer Steven Lam.
Mr Ayub had testified on Monday that he had heard Mr Corneliussen shout "Why so expensive? You want to cheat me?" and had seen Chan hit Mr Corneliussen first.
Mr Lam showed Mr Ayub video footage from that night and repeatedly asked if Mr Corneliussen had appeared aggressive.
Mr Ayub said: "He was just trying to get an explanation from the taxi driver... maybe he was frustrated because someone hit him."
The trial will resume on July 22 when the investigation officer who took Chan's statements is expected to testify. The defence is likely to call two witnesses to the stand - eyewitness, taxi driver Choithramani Chandrul Bhaqwandas, and Chan.