Singapore — To the court, it seemed like a classic case of road rage. On May 23, Thursday, 57-year-old Wang Jianliang, a professor at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) who was involved in an accident at the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) in 2017, was given a one-week jail sentence as well as a S$2,000 fine.
After the collision, Mr Wang got down from the car and struck the hood of the other vehicle.
Mr Wang, who is an associate professor at NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, pleaded guilty to one charge of a rash act endangering the safety of the other driver, as well as one charge of mischief for having struck the other driver’s car.
There is an additional charge of using criminal force on the other driver, Samuel Lim Yong Soon, age 60, that was also taken into consideration for sentencing. Mr Wang had apparently grabbed Mr Lim’s arm in an intimidating manner during their altercation.
However, Mr Wang said that he intends to appeal on the sentence and has applied for a stay of execution.
The road rage incident
Messrs Wang and Lim had both been driving into a merging lane in heavy traffic during peak hours coming into the PIE towards Changi Airport on March 16, 2017.
As Mr Wang attempted to move into the merging lane, Mr Li would not give way.
This “greatly annoyed” Mr Wang, the court heard, and he drove on the shoulder of the road, speeding up to catch up with and overtake Mr Lim. When he got ahead of Mr Lim, he deliberately stepped on the brakes of his car three times, in retaliation to the other driver’s earlier refusal to give way.
The third time that he stepped abruptly on his brakes, it caught Mr Lim completely by surprise, and the collision occurred.
The court also saw film clips from the in-car cameras of both men during the time of the incident.
After the collision, both men alighted from their cars and took photos of the cars. When Mr Wang asked Mr Lim for his driver’s license, Mr Lim declined to show it to him, telling Mr Wang to use his car’s registration number in order to check this with the Land Transport Authority.
This made Mr Wang angry, and he ended up shouting at Mr Lim, who returned to his car. When Mr Wang attempted to stop him from going to his car, Mr Lim pushed him, which resulted in Mr Wang’s phone falling down.
Mr Lim then began to drive away, whereupon Mr Wang struck the hood of Mr Lim’s car forcefully four times.
Mr Lim spent over S$4,000 to fix the dents caused by Mr Wang’s blows.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sheryl Yeo sought the following sentence for Mr Wang: one week in jail, a six-month ban on driving, and a sizable fine. She said that he was “deliberate and persistent in his conduct.”
It was also revealed to the court that Mr Wang has a prior conviction for spitting on someone in April 2017.
However, according to Eugene Thuraisingam, Mr Wang’s defence lawyer, there was “no chance of anyone being injured, and no one was injured” during the incident. He also pointed out that the traffic was slow at this time.
Mr Thuraisingam also pointed out Mr Wang’s remorse over the incident. “He’s now saying sorry and he won’t do it again,” he said.
He added that Mr Wang had offered to pay for the repairs of Mr Lim’s car, but that Mr Lim had refused this offer.
District Judge Christopher Tan did not seem to agree with the defence lawyer. He took the prior spitting incident into consideration and said that his behavior on the road in March 2017 was not the first time he showed aggression.
The Judge pointed out that, contrary to the defence lawyer’s assertion, there had been a “high degree of danger” during the incident, considering the number of people on the PIE at that time, since the collision occurred during peak hours.
Judge Tan said “The accused accelerated illegally on a road shoulder and cut into the victim’s path. After that, he jammed on the brakes not once, not twice, but three times.
Looking at the video, the accused’s behaviour when he got out of the car was as belligerent as it was while he was behind the wheel.
I am left in no doubt that this is a road rage case and the principle of general deterrence and safety of our road users is called into play.”
Mr Wang has been suspended from NTU, according to a representative of the university, pending the results of NTU’s disciplinary proceedings.
“NTU expects all members of its community to represent the highest ethical standards and to comply with the law at all times,” the spokesperson said. -/TISG