SINGAPORE: A private-hire driver was fined S$3,000 on Wednesday (Dec 13) after being found guilty to one count of using insulting words causing distress under the Protection from Harassment Act. The charge was amended from an earlier one of deliberately wounding racial feelings with his words.

54-year-old Singaporean Peh Boon Hua used racist words against a passenger after he was unable to find her intended destination due to a malfunction in the TADA app.

The passenger, a 46-year-old Singaporean woman, booked a car on ride-hailing application TADA at about 2 pm on Sep 23. The passenger and her child boarded Peh’s private-hire car in Pasir Ris. She intended to set the drop-off location as Block 194, Pasir Ris Street 12, but she could not do so due to a malfunction in the app. Therefore, the woman set the drop-off location at Block 194, Pasir Ris Street 11.

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However, when Peh drove to Pasir Ris Street 11, he could not locate Block 194, as there was no such address. Peh began arguing with the victim about the drop-off location. Eventually, he made a U-turn and drove towards Pasir Ris Street 12. They continued to quarrel, and the victim used her phone to record a video of Peh.

Peh got increasingly angry and shouted: “You are India, India ah, I am Chinese okay, you are India, I am a Chinese, you are the very worst … worst … worst customer.” She told Peh that she was a Singaporean Eurasian and not an Indian. She also told him that he was being racist. Peh raised his voice and replied: “I know you India. I am Chinese, you try to be funny with me.”

When the vehicle arrived at Block 194, Pasir Ris Street 12, the victim alighted with her daughter and made a police report the next day. For causing distress with his insulting words, Peh could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$5,000, or both. In response to media queries, TADA said on Wednesday that Peh was suspended after a “thorough investigation”.

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“The driver’s remarks that insinuated racial differences are completely unacceptable within TADA’s community guidelines and ethos,” said the platform.