Woman harasses, spits on taxi driver after he told passengers to wear mask for Covid-19 protection
SINGAPORE — Angry that a taxi driver told her and her companion to wear their masks during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kwek Shu Yong not only swore at the driver, she also spat at him.
On Monday (June 13), the 33-year-old woman was fined S$3,500 after she pleaded guilty to two charges related to harassment.
A third charge of breaching Covid-19 regulations was taken into consideration for her sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Timotheus Koh said that the incident happened in the wee hours of the morning on Nov 15 in 2020.
DPP Koh said that neither Kwek nor her companion Tan Geok Koon, whose age was not stated, were wearing their face masks when Mr Toh Gim Choon, then aged 59, picked them up at an unspecified location in Woodlands.
Covid-19 rules mandated then that people should be wearing their masks when they are out of their homes to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Mr Toh told them to do so before boarding his vehicle.
The pair complied but later, the driver noticed through his rear-view mirror that Tan had removed his mask, which prompted Mr Toh to remind his passengers to either keep their masks on or alight from his vehicle.
DPP Koh said that Kwek was upset by Mr Toh’s request and she responded by shouting at the older man in a mix of English, Mandarin and the Teochew dialect.
She was reported to have said: “Uncle, you this type of person… it’s a matter of time before you get beaten up by others… You don’t drive at night, you drive in the morning will do… This type of (profanity) personality drive in the morning will do.”
Feeling harassed, Mr Toh took out his mobile phone and told Kwek that he would record her behaviour, DPP Koh added.
Kwek then lowered her mask and made a spitting sound in the victim’s direction twice and challenged him to call the police.
As a result of the Kwek’s actions, some of her spittle landed on Mr Toh’s face. The man then drove the pair to the Sembawang Neighbourhood Police Centre.
DPP Koh, who sought the punishment given, described Kwek’s actions — which took place because she was unhappy that she was told to comply with the law — as “disgusting and irresponsible given the heightened anxiety caused by the Covid-19 pandemic at that time”.
“The victim was providing transportation services to the public. He is a vulnerable victim as he is constantly exposed on the service frontline and left to fend for himself when confronted with difficult or unruly passengers — or both, as in the present case.”
For intentionally harassing Mr Toh, Kwek could have be fined up to S$5,000, or jailed up to six months, or both.