Someone touched my buttocks
Public drunkenness in Little India saw a spike two years ago, especially on the first two weekends of the month.
And timekeeper Wong Geck Woon was molested by a seemingly drunk foreign worker while on the job two years ago.
She said this on the second day of the Little India riot Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearing.
Madam Wong, 38, who was on the witness stand, recounted the molest incident which happened in 2012 on New Year's Day.
She was on duty coordinating buses in Little India when she saw a foreign worker in the queue who seemed intoxicated because his gait was unsteady.
Shortly after that, she felt someone touch her buttocks as she was reaching for her walkie-talkie, which she used to communicate with the bus drivers.
Grabbing the man's hand, she turned around and found the perpetrator to be the intoxicated man she had seen moments earlier.
When she accused him of molesting her, he denied it. This caused a small commotion and a crowd gathered, attracting the attention of auxiliary police officers on patrol.
They took him to a corner and later called the police.
After the police arrived, Madam Wong said they went to the police station next to KK Women's and Children's Hospital at about 10pm.
"They took down my statement, that's all," she told the committee in response to a question from former police commissioner Tee Tua Ba.
When asked why she did not follow up with the police on her case - which Mr Tee called "a serious matter" - Madam Wong said: "I don't have their telephone number."
Senior State Counsel David Khoo then told the committee that investigation officers would look into the matter.
When the session resumed after lunch, Mr Khoo said records of the case had been found. Auxiliary police at the scene had called the cops, saying there was a case of molest.
Officers arrived and took Madam Wong to Tanglin Police Division, where she made a report on Jan 1 at 9.22pm.
Nearly seven months later, on July 10, the police sent her a letter saying that investigations had been completed.
The foreign worker was issued a warning after the police looked at the evidence and consulted the Attorney-General's Chambers.
Mr Khoo added that the unnamed foreign worker had been repatriated shortly after receiving the warning.
During Madam Wong's time on the witness stand yesterday, she recounted another unpleasant encounter in her five years on the job as a timekeeper.
Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter, she said the second incident was more recent, in November last year.
She saw two men, who were drinking and smoking at a boulder near the bus queue, throwing their cigarette butts on the ground.
Around the same time, a group of auxiliary police officers whom she knew came up to her for a chat.
When they saw the men littering, they issued summonses.
Unhappy about their fine, the two men accused her of being a snitch.
Madam Wong said she did not respond because the auxiliary police officers had told her to just walk away.
'NOT ENOUGH' POLICE
She also talked about the alcohol problem in Little India on weekends, which she said worsened two years ago.
Nearly every store sells liquor, which has made it much easier to buy alcohol, she said.
It has resulted in a number of incidents of drunk foreign workers vomiting and urinating on board buses ferrying them back to their dormitories.
As a precaution, since 2012, the drivers have collectively agreed not to ferry any workers who appear drunk.
There were also more cases of drunken workers on the first two weekends of the month, after the men had received their salaries.
The police are aware of this, she said, and would step up their patrols during those weekends and drive through the area in a police car.
If there was anything awry, two or three officers would get down from the car to investigate.
Madam Wong added that there were one or two occasions in which auxiliary police officers had to step in to break up fights among the foreign workers.
This was "not enough", she answered when Mr Tee asked if she thought there was an ample police presence.
The hearing will continue today, with Deputy Commissioner of Police T. Raja Kumar and bus passenger Ganesan Thanaraj likely to testify.
After Senior State Counsel David Khoo was done questioning timekeeper Wong Geck Woon, members of the Committee of Inquiry (COI) had their own questions for her.
Here is a reproduction of questions from COI chairman G. Pannir Selvam and Madam Wong's answers. Some questions and answers have been edited for brevity.
Q: A number of people have told me that you have a long history of being rude to the workers. You humiliated them, and then called them all kinds of names. An inside complaint was made about you. Are you aware of that?
A: I don't know.
Q: Some of the remarks that you made were in a derogatory manner about race, do you agree?
A: I do not.
Q: The shopkeepers along Race Course Road have a lot of complaints against you... (The shopkeepers say) you tell the buses to wait outside the shops along Race Course Road, which blocks the shops.
A: No. The buses have to wait along Tekka Lane... The buses can't park along Race Course Road.
Q: If what you say is true, why did they go for you after the accident? I can understand about (people wanting to attack) the driver, but why you?
A: I don't know.
Bus driver gives different account
I sensed the crowd moving towards me aggressively. As I was feeling scared at this point, I asked Xiao Mei (his nickname for Madam Wong) to board the bus with me.
- Mr Lee Kim Huat
The bus driver at the centre of the Little India riot was the second witness to appear on the stand during yesterday's inquiry.
But Mr Lee Kim Huat, who has the alias Lim Hai Tiong, gave a different account of what happened that day from timekeeper Wong Geck Woon, 38.
Both were trapped in the same bus as rioters surrounded it, throwing stones, flower pots, drain covers and beer bottles through the bus windows.
Here is what each said:
WHY WAS THE VICTIM TOLD TO ALIGHT?
What she said:
Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu had jumped the queue and boarded the bus, leading other workers to complain to her that it was unfair and that he was drunk.
It was only after she heard from Mr Lee, 55 , about the drunk passenger taking off his trousers that Madam Wong started trying to get him to alight.
She sought the help of a male foreign worker at the front of the queue to check if Mr Sakthivel had really pulled his trousers down.
Video footage from the bus showed the man boarding and gesticulating to Mr Sakthivel to alight, but he did not respond.
Madam Wong then boarded the bus to get him to alight and said she had to "raise her voice" to do so.
He complied and alighted after that, carrying an umbrella.
What he said:
Madam Wong had shouted at Mr Sakthivel to get off the bus when he boarded, Mr Lee said in his statement.
This was before she enlisted the help of a foreign worker.
And Mr Lee did not notice if Mr Sakthivel had taken off his trousers when he was on the bus, he said in his statement.
He only thought Mr Sakthivel was drunk based on his unsteady gait and that he had slipped while boarding the bus. He also did not notice Mr Sakthivel carrying anything.
HOW DID THEY
END UP IN THE BUS?
What she said:
An Indian man wearing a checkered shirt, dubbed by many as the Little India Hero, had gone to her and Mr Lee's aid as the crowd grew angry.
"He asked me to quickly board the bus," said Madam Wong.
She added that she did not know why she was told to go up the bus.
At that time, she said Mr Lee was using his mobile phone on the bus steps. Both entered the empty bus.
She asked Mr Lee to close the bus door as the Little India Hero had told them to do so.
What he said:
The man in the checkered shirt had threatened to punch me, said Mr Lee at first. He described him as a big-sized Indian man who grabbed him by the shirt collar.
Said Mr Lee: "I sensed the crowd moving towards me aggressively. As I was feeling scared at this point, I asked Xiao Mei (his nickname for Madam Wong) to board the bus with me."
He quickly closed the door after they were both on board.
He only realised that the man in the checkered shirt had tried to protect the two of them after seeing the video footage yesterday.
WAS IT RAINING?
What she said:
She wore a raincoat and a cap, and held an umbrella as it was raining.
What he said:
He said it was neither raining nor drizzling at first.
He later remembered that it was raining after he was shown video footage of people carrying umbrellas.
The following points surfaced from the testimonies of timekeeper Wong Geck Woon and bus driver Lee Kim Huat:
While Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu was queueing to board the bus heading towards Jalan Papan, he was actually near the end of the line but jumped queue and boarded the bus.
After Madam Wong boarded the bus and asked Mr Sakthivel to leave, he tripped and fell on his buttocks as he was leaving the bus. Video footage showed him sitting on the steps of the bus for a few seconds. He then got up and left the vehicle.
During the time the bus was under siege, Madam Wong hid on the steps of the bus and Mr Leecrouched under a green trash bin.
Two men climbed in through the broken driver's side window and attacked Madam Wong. But Madam Wong said she only knew that one man was attacking her. She covered herself with a raincoat after he started hitting her.
Mr Lee said the two men had asked her "where is the uncle". She replied that she did not know.
The closed-circuit television camera on the left wing mirror of the bushad captured Mr Sakthivel's actions while he was running after the bus.
But Mr Lee did not see this because he had not turned the monitor screen on due to "glare".
While Mr Sakthivel was walking alongside the bus, he was seen by Mr Lee. He was waving to Mr Lee, signalling for him to stop.
Mr Lee waved back to indicate that the bus was full and that he could not stop for him. He then drove past Mr Sakthivel and did not see him again until the accident.