Unpopular opinion: The girl in the GoJek case was actually correct.


Bear with me, just for a moment…

Forget the drama on social media. Forget you’ve watched the video. Forget that the ERP costs only $1. If you’re Chinese, forget that for a moment too.

Now imagine being familiar with a journey, one that you’ve never paid ERP for. (According to the Straits Times, this journey does exist, via Thomson-Bugis)

Then today, your driver took a new route and the machine beeps. You look ahead and there are a few more gantries waiting to be passed. The CTE is known to be a very expensive expressway, on GPS it is aptly labelled the “toll route”.

You’re angry. You don’t know how to drive, which is why you hailed a driver.

But the driver doesn’t know either – he’s not exactly a taxi driver, merely a Private Hire. He wasn’t trained in roads, landmarks, ERP timings. He (probably) doesn’t know the shortcuts, the road nuances and characteristics of the traffic as a seasoned taxi driver would.

To get a Private Driver’s Vocational Licence, you just need to pay $155.15 for a 1 day course from 9am to 6pm. You’ll be briefed on service quality, health and safety and the general rules and regulations. That’s it.

And then there is dispute with the driver. Things heat up. 

Then suddenly, he takes you to a destination you did not ask for. He claims it is the police station – but how do you really know? 

Even if it was the police station, you may not drive someone there against his/her consent. There is no crime committed and there is no grounds for any sort of arrest, not even a citizen’s arrest.  

In detaining the girl and bringing her to a police station, the PHV driver has indeed exposed himself to criminal charges. False imprisonment, wrongful arrest or unlawful restraint. 

The Chinese girl is correct. Her rights are being violated.

The Penal Code provides guidance:

S.339 Whoever voluntarily obstructs any person, so as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed, is said wrongfully to restrain that person.

S.340 Whoever wrongfully restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits, is said “wrongfully to confine” that person.

The driver is wrong to have driven her to the police station. The only grounds he has is that he was making a citizen’s (or civilian’s) arrest. But this has limits.

The only situation where someone can make a citizen’s arrest, is he/she is CERTAIN that an offence has been committed or has witnessed the actual commission of a SERIOUS crime. 

S.66 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows a civilian to arrest any person but only on the grounds that this person has committed or is committing an ARRESTABLE offence.

Examples of an arrestable offence include: unlawful assembly, impersonation of public servant, affray, poisoning of water sources, rash/negligent driving, rape, obscene acts, theft and robbery, outrage of modesty…and so on.

What he should have done, is alight her at a safe point as soon as possible and allow Go Jek to deal with her for her non-payment. 

At least by procedure and the letter of the law, the girl was right. This was a restraint on her freedom for no good reason. 

However, she has behaved in such a manner that all sympathy for her had been swept away. 

It is a shame. 

About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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17 Comments

  • Hi, this is quite a well considered viewpoint. That said, it is quite common for taxi disputes to be solved in this way. The Malay gentleman seems to know this, or at least have obtained the know-how somewhere from someone.

  • First and foremost, it is beyond reasonable acceptance to ask PHV drivers to understand the laws with regards to issues relating to such scenarios. Not all cases or issues bears the same resemblance. The driver acted in good faith and peace composure having been accused of kidnapping which you know and I know it’s absurb. Secondly, even if we compare PHV drivers to taxi drivers by large, not all drivers has the same road knowledge and hence, it is easily disputable to say that drivers ought to know indefinitely of SG road directions. Thirdly, this passenger recorded the accused driver which prompted the driver himself to also perform recording as a sense of defence rather than being intrusive of another person well-being. I do find it strange that the laws governing these are not in a way fair. It should be constructed to protect both rather than a one-sided affair as in this case. Last but not least, I’m not a PHV driver nor am I a potential passenger. Nevertheless, I’m confident that the driver acted in a manner most of us will when comes to events like this.

    It is a shame that the passenger escalated such issues even when it was explained so to her.

    • Not knowing the law isn’t an excuse to break to law. That’s the ignorant part of the driver which he could have handled better.

  • Good argument, however these are not the reasons why she’s currently public enemy number 1 (definitely not because she is xhineCh).

    Firstly, if she was familiar with the journey, she could have informed the driver of the route she wished to take in order to avoid the ERP. She was even asked by the driver if she “knew the way”. She did not. Instead, she took out her phone, started recording, and insisted that the driver was out to cheat her. Do note that grab/gojek drivers do not earn a single cent from the ERP charges. They pay the ERP first with the balance in their cashcards, and add it to the charges at the end of the trip.

    Secondly, a flaw in your argument is the Private Hire Driver’s lack of knowledge/experience of the roads. Yes, they do attend a course. But it is not a simple as you make it out to be. The Private Hire Driver’s Vocational License is a 2 day course, followed by two rigorous exams – which drivers are tested on safe driving techniques, laws, customer service, road safety and Occupational health and safety (OHS), among a myriad of other topics. Thousands of drivers take the test multiple times yet still fail. It is not as simple or easy as you make it out to be, to say that it is would be an insult to every PDVL driver.

    Thirdly, it was not because of the dispidiin fare that the driver drove to the police station, nor did he hold her against her will. He made his way to the police station because of the wild accusations she made on video against the driver.

    Peace out drops mic.

  • To add: Her accusations of kidnapping, cheating are extremely serious. She was more or less gambling with the driver’s life and rice bowl (he is the sole breadwinner for the family). How is she exactly “correct”?

    Also, under grab’s policy, the driver reserves the right to choose the fastest route possible. Should the passenger have a preferred route, she could have informed the driver of her route. Which she was not able to.

  • This is a fair and completely sound argument. The matter should have been handled privately between the rider and driver. Her accusations made is between him and her. If she made her accusation publicly, then perhaps in the driver’s defense, posting the video only might be a last resort to clearing his name, so that he can clear his name publicly.

    Even so, it didn’t give him the right to post the video online just so he can “clear” his name publicly, which in fact he didn’t have to if he knows he hasn’t done anything wrong.

    The riders choice of words and reaction to the situation is not one for us to judge but insisting on driving to the police station can put him in an unfavourable and unlawful position.

    Just a two cents worth

  • Very much agree with Faze Reign on this. Bottomline,this saga has opened up challenges often faced by PHV drivers and perhaps sets a benchmark on how passengers and drivers should determine to begin the journey in the future. I do hope that the particular PHV driver involved are not penalised in any way. He discharged his actions based on what he felt right and in no way endangered the passenger. Lastly, she shouldn’t have played the ‘race’ card. It’s plainly awful and disgusting. What Singapore today are based on One People,One Nation notion.

  • Whatever it was, erp is not to the gain of the driver. He asked her to show him the the ERPless way. But she claimed she always went the route without erp but was not able to guide the driver. Honestly If I’m the driver, I will choose the best and fastest route to my interest as the rider chose to book the cheap private hire to her interest. She gets a car as what she wants and driver gets to go the best way as he wants. If she has a problem with the erp she should take it up with lta.

    • He can take a video to protect himself. Sure thing. So can she.

      According to PDPA regulations, the video recording shall not be misused for purposes other than the intended purpose.

      And.. what is the intended purpose again? To protect himself.

      How does posting it online protect himself?

      Whatever video he has taken must only be shown (in full version) to authorities in order to protect himself if the girl ever reported him for a kidnapping case.

      It’s not hard to understand, mate.

      The girl at least doesn’t fail as a law student, she knows well not to post her video.

  • Thank you everyone for your concern.
    A young lady who suffered during recent ride-hailing incident speaks up about frightening experience.

    Dear Singapore and friends from the media,

    Good evening. On the 31st of January 2019, Mr Kamaruzzaman posted a video onto social media on what seems to be an unreasonable passenger demanding a driver to bear costs for ERP when they were already halfway into their journey and would resort to accusations just to have her way. This has struck a cord with many which has now captured state media due to its viral circulation. The video shows only a segment of the ride. This is disinformation i.e fake news whose objective is for the benefit of oneself and did not tell the full truth.

    First, I must emphasize that drivers should not bear the costs for ERP. This was why I had spoken to Mr Kamaruzzaman at the very beginning of our ride about it. Leaving the ERP discussion till drop-off point would not have been fair to the driver as he would have completed the journey by then. ERP costs are not quoted in the fare when a ride is booked. From past experiences, drivers would take the initiative to ask for my opinion on which route to take (faster route with ERP or without ERP). Shortly after entering his vehicle, we could not come to an agreement and asked for the driver to return me to the pick-up point or drop me at a safe spot.

    Instead of choosing to end the trip then and there at Bishan, the driver refused to drop me and drove off in fury. He choose to escalate the matter and choose to bully a young lady alone and helpless in his car. Here we have a man, taller, bigger and stronger in built than I am, taking charge of the wheel and driving me to an unknown place for intentions he had on me I do not know. He started to threaten me, boasting that he can charge anything he wants and I will have to be the one settling the matter with the company. The fear for my safety was not exaggerated. I hope no one else will go through such an experience. No private individual has the capacity to bring anyone to any point they like. Our safety in Singapore should not be taken for granted. The driver’s detention and restriction of my freedom against my will was clearly and repeatedly communicated to the driver, and was repeatedly communicated to him to release me.

    There is a route without ERP cost from Bishan to Coleman Street via Thomson-Bugis. This route is shorter than taking the highway. And cheaper (without ERP costs):

    1. From Bishan, drive out onto Marymount Road
    2. Pass by Marymount Convent (school)
    3. Continue onto Thomson Road. There is an ERP at Thomson Road that starts only at 7.30am
    4. Pass by Novena Velocity (shopping mall)
    5. Continue onto Keng Lee Road, pass by Farrer Park Swimming Complex
    6. Continue onto Kampung Java Road
    7. Turn left out onto Bukit Timah Road
    8. Pass by Tekka Centre and continue onto Sungei Road
    9. Continue onto Ophir Road
    10. Turn right onto Victoria Street (Bugis), pass by Bugis Junction. There is an ERP here which only starts at 8am.
    11. From Bugis, continue down to Coleman Street.

    Lastly, I would like to say, our Singapore drivers are all excellent and good persons. They serve everyone with kindness and love. I salute them with the highest respect.

    Updates can be found on my Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/zheng.xiang.3701. Alternatively, you can search for “Zheng Xiang” on Facebook.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you everyone for your concern.
    A young lady who suffered during recent ride-hailing incident speaks up about frightening experience.

    Dear Singapore and friends from the media,

    Good evening. On the 31st of January 2019, Mr Kamaruzzaman posted a video onto social media on what seems to be an unreasonable passenger demanding a driver to bear costs for ERP when they were already halfway into their journey and would resort to accusations just to have her way. This has struck a cord with many which has now captured state media due to its viral circulation. The video shows only a segment of the ride. This is disinformation i.e fake news whose objective is for the benefit of oneself and did not tell the full truth.

    First, I must emphasize that drivers should not bear the costs for ERP. This was why I had spoken to Mr Kamaruzzaman at the very beginning of our ride about it. Leaving the ERP discussion till drop-off point would not have been fair to the driver as he would have completed the journey by then. ERP costs are not quoted in the fare when a ride is booked. From past experiences, drivers would take the initiative to ask for my opinion on which route to take (faster route with ERP or without ERP). Shortly after entering his vehicle, we could not come to an agreement and asked for the driver to return me to the pick-up point or drop me at a safe spot.

    Instead of choosing to end the trip then and there at Bishan, the driver refused to drop me and drove off in fury. He choose to escalate the matter and choose to bully a young lady alone and helpless in his car. Here we have a man, taller, bigger and stronger in built than I am, taking charge of the wheel and driving me to an unknown place for intentions he had on me I do not know. He started to threaten me, boasting that he can charge anything he wants and I will have to be the one settling the matter with the company. The fear for my safety was not exaggerated. I hope no one else will go through such an experience. No private individual has the capacity to bring anyone to any point they like. Our safety in Singapore should not be taken for granted. The driver’s detention and restriction of my freedom against my will was clearly and repeatedly communicated to the driver, and was repeatedly communicated to him to release me.

    There is a route without ERP cost from Bishan to Coleman Street via Thomson-Bugis. This route is shorter than taking the highway. And cheaper (without ERP costs).

    1. From Bishan, drive out onto Marymount Road
    2. Pass by Marymount Convent (school)
    3. Continue onto Thomson Road. There is an ERP at Thomson Road that starts only at 7.30am
    4. Pass by Novena Velocity (shopping mall)
    5. Continue onto Keng Lee Road, pass by Farrer Park Swimming Complex
    6. Continue onto Kampung Java Road
    7. Turn left out onto Bukit Timah Road
    8. Pass by Tekka Centre and continue onto Sungei Road
    9. Continue onto Ophir Road
    10. Turn right onto Victoria Street (Bugis), pass by Bugis Junction. There is an ERP here which only starts at 8am.
    11. From Bugis, continue down to Coleman Street.

    Lastly, I would like to say, our Singapore drivers are all excellent and good persons. They serve everyone with kindness and love. I salute them with the highest respect.

    • To clarify your point: The passenger was against being taken to the police station. She was held against her will. But in the video, she can even suggest to be taken to the one at town – nearer to her dropoff?

      Next time if I get kidnapped, maybe I should suggest the location of where the kidnappers should take me to.

  • Unless I’m very much mistaken, I do believe reading that the rider did not object to been driven to the police station. In fact, she had suggested to go to some police station located in the city rather than the nearest. If this is so, then it cannot be said that she was restrained against her will.

  • The lady was indeed in wrong for not knowing the way and offcoz making fuss which made her infamous now ok social media. Hands down, she escalate the situation. So now , let’s talk about driver , I believe no one , I mean No ONE would want to be driven to anywhere without their concern. Be it police station or whereever it maybe . Imgine, just imgine in the lady shoe or should I say seat. You argue with driver about routes , and end up the driver insists on driving you to police station . Your destination is at example, Jurong East, but driver Want to drive to Bedok police station how? You see ,The lady has no choice but to follow , since she’s not behind the wheel . I mean , he didn’t but he could , very well bring her else where/anywhere . If you ask me, what would I do? I would say , I would drop her in safe place if not on expressway and kindly chase her out and explain to Gojek about it. Driving to any other place without passenger is very well consider wrongful restrain already , not citizen arrest. No discrimination/intimidating offence has commit by the crazy lady, so you can’t say the drive made citizen arrest. He did so by his own will. And I believe this whole saga would never have happen if driver did not upload the video on Facebook and makes it virals. Now the crazy lady has all she need to use it against the diver. Even tho she’s looking pretty bad in it.

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