No one helps hurt wheelchair user, some even laugh
Ex-cabby jailed for pushing disabled man out of wheelchair. Victim says...
He tried to flee on his motorised wheelchair from a cabby who wanted to exact revenge on him for reporting his illegally parked taxi to the authorities.
It was in vain. Mr Ng Eng Gee, 51, was no match for his able-bodied pursuer, who soon caught up with him.
Then, disregarding the fact that his prey was a frail, paralysed man, the cabby, Jit Singh, 60, did the unthinkable.
He callously tipped Mr Ng out of his wheelchair, sending him sprawling to the ground.
After his assailant fled, Mr Ng lay on the ground helplessly for 10 minutes.
It was not because there was no one around to help him, he told The New Paper on Tuesday.
Some people had seen the incident and gathered near him. But not one of them lifted a finger to help him.
To add insult to his injury, a few of them even laughed at his predicament, Mr Ng added.
When the police arrived after about 10 minutes, he was still lying on the ground.
In an interview at his two-room flat in Upper Aljunied, Mr Ng, who is unemployed, said he calls the authorities whenever he sees illegally parked vehicles.
He feels it is his civic duty to do so, especially since some of these vehicles have blocked his way when he tried to move past in his wheelchair.
Mr Ng was struck with cerebral palsy when he was three months old.
He used to be more mobile, but became paralysed from the neck down after falling at the lift landing in his block in 2006.
On Tuesday, Singh, who is no longer a cabby, was jailed two weeks for assaulting Mr Ng on Dec 24, 2012.
The court also ordered Singh to pay Mr Ng $500 in compensation after he pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt.
Recalling the incident, Mr Ng said: "His taxi was not blocking my way that day, but he was still parked illegally. That's why I told the LTA (Land Transport Authority)."
Mr Ng, who speaks with a slur, said in English that he was terrified when Singh chased him as he was trying to escape on his wheelchair that day.
He tried accelerating, but to no avail.
"Somebody at a coffee shop told him that I had informed the LTA. He parked his taxi, got out of his vehicle and chased me.
"He caught hold of my wheelchair and tipped me out. I fell on the pavement. It was painful and my hand started bleeding."
Mr Ng is thankful that he managed to note down the number plate of Singh's white Mercedes taxi before he fled the scene.
He passed this information to the police who later arrested Singh.
Mr Ng, who lives on his own, said he suffered nightmares and was unable to get a good night's rest after the incident, though he has since got over the ordeal.
He said he gets government support every month. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) told TNP that he receives ComCare financial assistance of $450 per month.
The MSF spokesman said he is also provided with a medical benefits card.
Mr Ng said he paid $50 to repair the armrest of his wheelchair and spent $30 on medical fees.
He said he wanted Singh to give him only $80 in compensation and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the court had ordered Singh to give him $500.
Mr Ng said the assault would not deter him from informing the authorities about illegally parked vehicles in his neighbourhood.
"It is my duty. I don't like seeing illegally parked cars and some of them block my way. Very inconvenient for people like me," he said.
He has also forgiven Singh for assaulting him.
"I hope he will change his behaviour after he is released from jail... I feel bad that he has to go to jail because of me.
"But I hope that it will teach him a lesson and he will not bully disabled people like me in the future."
He parked his taxi, got out of his vehicle and chased me. He caught hold of my wheelchair and tipped me out. I fell on the pavement. It was painful and my hand started bleeding.
- Mr Ng Eng Gee on his ordeal
Outrage over ex-cabby's actions
Wheelchair users were outraged at what then-cabby Jit Singh, 60, did to Mr Ng Eng Gee.
He had tipped the disabled Mr Ng, 51, out of his wheelchair after the latter informed the Land Transport Authority about his parking offence.
Speaking to TNP on Wednesday, Mr Moses Yao, 39, who was born with cerebral palsy and is jobless, said he fully supports Mr Ng's decision to inform the authorities.
Mr Yao said: "Of course I'm outraged! How can (Singh) be so heartless? He was at fault parking illegally, yet he dared to attack a disabled person.
"He was being inconsiderate by parking illegally. I would have done the same thing and told the authorities."
Another wheelchair user, who wanted to be known only as Madam Siti, felt the same way.
The mother of two adult sons was fuming when she found out about Mr Ng's predicament.
Madam Siti, who is in her 60s and who had a stroke about five years ago, said: "Two weeks' jail is too short for (Singh).
She added: "I'm more angry at the fact that (Mr Ng) was lying on the ground for 10 minutes and no one helped him.
"What's wrong with our society? These people have no compassion at all," she said.
Responding to queries from TNP, the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA) said wheelchair users, when threatened with violence, should call for help and attract the attention of passers-by. If possible, they should also call the police.
Its spokesman added: "(Singh's) physical action should not be condoned, no matter what the circumstances may be. The HWA is indignant that such an action was taken against a disabled individual who is in a wheelchair."
Able-bodied Singaporeans were also appalled by Singh's actions.
A primary school teacher, who wanted to be known as Ms Linda, said: "As a teacher, I always remind my pupils to be kind and help others in need.
"These values must be taught at a young age. Teacher and parents must work together to nurture our young - not just in academics, but also in morals and values."
Singapore Kindness Movement general secretary William Wan said it was sad that no one went to Mr Ng's aid when he was on the ground.
He said some of the onlookers could have been stumped at the act of violence against the wheelchair user and did not know what to do.
As a result of the "bystander effect", some might not have wanted to offer help when there were others around.
Said Dr Wan: "However, it takes just one person to do something and others will follow suit.
"Let this be a lesson to all. Please step up when you see others in trouble and inspire others to do the same."
I'm more angry at the fact that (Mr Ng) was lying on the ground for 10 minutes and no one helped him. What's wrong with our society? These people have no compassion at all.
- Wheelchair user Madam Siti
About the case
A former taxi driver, Jit Singh, 60, was jailed for two weeks on Tuesday for tipping Mr Ng Eng Gee, 51, out of his wheelchair.
Singh, who pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt, was also ordered to pay Mr Ng $500 in compensation.
Mr Ng was having breakfast at Tan Ee Keu Kopi coffee shop at Upper Aljunied Road at around 6.30am on Dec 24, 2012, when he saw Singh's white Mercedes taxi illegally parked and obstructing its driveway.
He told the Land Transport Authority about the vehicle and an officer soon arrived to issue Singh a summons.
Singh later found out who had reported him and angrily chased Mr Ng, grabbed hold of his wheelchair and tipped him out.
He could have been jailed up to two years and fined up to $5,000.