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Ex-bus driver charged and penniless

By Terry Xu

Imagining living by yourself in a foreign country with no money, no passport and no way to earn a living. What will your options be to survive?

Most might not recall the news story of an elderly lady being knocked by a bus last year in the month of October 2011.

But some of us should vividly recall this traffic accident as the bus driver for this accident fled all the way back to Malaysia immediately after the accident, abandoning his bus at the site.

He eventually turned himself in to the Singapore police. Not much was reported of what happened after, and as is human nature, people have forgotten about the whole incident and moved on with their everyday life.

What you might not know is that this bus driver is still living in Singapore, charged with causing death due to reckless driving, and with a pending appeal.  He still has his passport compounded by the police due to the high flight risk as demonstrated by his flight back to Malaysia, and his employment promptly terminated on the spot by his company due to this accident.

Keat (not the real name of the driver) after his termination, is not able to work in any job because his work permit was registered with Singapore Mass Rapid Transportation (SMRT) and his passport has been impounded.

Since he lived in Malaysia with his family, he does not have a place in Singapore. His family too is not well to do, and is unable to provide much to tide Keat over in his stay here in Singapore.

He is currently staying in a HDB housing owned by his colleague, living with his family. As Keat does not have any work, he is unable to pay for his share of food and lodging.

While the driver did commit the offence, his fellow colleague stood by him in support. A sum of money was raised for him by pooling donations among the other bus drivers when they knew of Keat’s plight. This sum of money was to be used for Keat's legal expenses as well as for his living expenses in Singapore.

Keat had tried to ask for some odd jobs from SMRT though he was already terminated, as he had no one else to turn to. The company declined to give him any work, though TOC understands from SMRT staff that a SMRT Vice President, Ms Kang Huey Ling had given him a goodwill sum of $1,000 dollars through her staff to tide him upon discovering this. She had also tasked Mr Benson Ang, a senior operation manager, to help find some form of job for Keat. Unfortunately, to date, Keat has not heard from this manager about any job vacancies available for him.

TOC understands from an SMRT employee that there was a similar case more than 5 years ago, involving a Malaysian Indian driver who was also terminated for similar driving offences. But while waiting for his sentencing, SMRT gave him some jobs to help him pay for living expenses. Keat and his colleagues hope that the same can be done for Keat, so as to allow him to at least get by while the legal proceedings are completed.

Asked about his hopes for the future, Keat says he hopes to get a job soon while waiting for his pending appeal, so that he need not impose on his colleague even though he has been willingly providing shelter for him.

TOC has written to SMRT but has not recieved any response in regards to this story till date.