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Transport Minister condemns the assault against SBS bus captain over mask issue as “despicable”

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Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung has condemned the recent assault against a SBS Transit bus captain, calling such behaviour “despicable”, in a Facebook post published on Thursday (17 Sept).

The assault, which lasted 12 minutes, took place around 2.45pm on Tuesday (15 Sept) when a bus driver plying service route 21 told a male commuter that he had to wear a mask. SBS Transit said that the man boarded the bus without a mask and only put it on after.

The man started to hurl vulgarities at the bus captain for several minutes and began to assault the bus driver when he stopped the bus and waited for the police to arrive. SBS Transit said:

“The man grabbed the Bus Captain’s neck and collar, holding on for more than a minute. He refused to let go even when our BC pleaded with him to do so. Our BC could be seen cowering with his arms shielding his face as the man started punching him repeatedly on the head.

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“It was here that three young men who were at the bus stop rushed up the bus and tackled the assailant, dragging him out of the bus to the bus stop. They pinned him to the ground while awaiting the arrival of the Police, who came soon after. The man was later taken away handcuffed by the Police.”

The bus captain, who was shaken by the incident, sought medical treatment at Changi General Hospital. The transport company said that he did not sustain any serious injuries and thanked the good samaritans who came forward to ad their employee.

Revealing that this is not the first time one of its bus captains have been abused by commuters over the mandatory face mask rule SBS Transit added: “What happened yesterday is unfortunately not an incident in isolation. Several of our BCs have been abused in the last few months on account of enforcing the strict mask-up rule. This is repugnant. And this must stop.”

The police charged 52-year-old Ja’afally Abdul Rahim with voluntarily causing hurt to the bus captain, Mr Low Kok Weng, yesterday (17 Sept). He was also charged for carrying a knife with a 6cm blade on the bus.

Mr Ong addressed the issue in a social media post published shortly after the assailant was charged. Revealing that he news of the assault broke when he was in a dialogue with SMRT workers, who were also concerned about difficult commuters who do not abide by the face mask rule, the new Transport Minister said:

“This is disturbing. Transport service staff are doing their job, making sure the system is safe for all of us. We all have a responsibility to wear a mask in public – a simple civic duty. Such blatant disregard for fellow commuters, and assaulting a bus captain who was doing his job, is despicable.”

Praising the three commuters who stepped up to help Mr Low and SBS Transport for backing its employees, Mr Ong added: “As the SMRT service staff said, out of 100 commuters, 98 are nice but two are rude. Let’s stand up against the two – and be the 98 who keep each other going.”

During a dialogue with SMRT workers yesterday, one issue clearly on their minds was difficult commuters who do not wear…

Posted by Ong Ye Kung on Thursday, September 17, 2020

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