Tall passengers make me anxious
Cabby still traumatised 8 months after attack by Dutch national who tried to evade fare. Passenger jailed 3 weeks for causing hurt
When he first started driving a taxi, Mr Ee Kah Ling's biggest worry was meeting unruly customers.
Five months into the job, his worst fears were realised when a hostile passenger rained kicks and punches on him after refusing to pay the fare.
Mr Ee's attacker, Dutch national Dino Petrus Johannes Van Deijzen, was jailed for three weeks yesterday after pleading guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt.
Eight months have passed since that day last October, but memories of the assault remain vivid in Mr Ee's mind.
He spoke about the Oct 21 incident to The New Paper yesterday.
Mr Ee, 43, said: "I have forgiven him, but I won't be able to forget."
At about 12.30am, Mr Ee, who was working the night shift, picked up Van Deijzen and his girlfriend at Dunlop Street in Little India.
Both were drunk, Mr Ee said.
"They reeked of alcohol and couldn't walk straight. They just slept in my taxi."
When Mr Ee arrived at their destination at Ang Mo Kio, the woman threw up in the back seat.
"There was a pool of vomit on the rear passenger seat so both of them got out of the cab," he said.
The pair began walking away without paying the $20 fare.
"I asked them how they wanted to settle the mess, but they just walked farther and farther away.
"That's when I raised my voice and said I would call the police."
When Mr Ee returned to his taxi to get his mobile phone from the dashboard, Van Deijzen slammed the door on his back.
"I was so shocked and tried to get away, but he slammed the door against me again and again.
"It felt like I had a knife stuck in my back. It was so painful that I was crying."
Mr Ee eventually broke free and fled, but Van Deijzen gave chase.
"As I ran, I called the police, but he was charging at me so quickly that I couldn't even get a word in before he pushed me to the ground."
The act of violence was captured by Mr Ee's in-vehicle camera. He showed TNP the footage yesterday.
In the video, Mr Ee was no match for the towering Van Deijzen, who dragged him across the ground with ease.
Van Deijzen's blows were so fast and furious that Mr Ee was unable to escape.
The assault lasted seconds, but felt like eternity to Mr Ee, who said: "I thought it was never going to end. After a while, I just felt numb."
Mr Ee suffered multiple abrasions on his arms and legs and slight redness of his chest.
Mr Ee is trying to put the episode behind him, but although the physical wounds have healed, he is still affected mentally.
"I still get nightmares of being beaten up from time to time. And when I pick up tall men, I get anxious and start to worry."
Looking back, he regrets pursuing the couple over their $20 fare.
"It's not worth all the pain, mental torture and loss of income."
His medical bills amounted to more than $300.
While his two sons, aged 14 and 16, have urged him to find a new job, Mr Ee has no plans to stop driving his taxi.
He said: "People like Van Deijzen are the black sheep. Most of my passengers are really nice.
"They are the ones who keep me going."
ABOUT THE CASE
The heavily intoxicated couple boarded a taxi at Dunlop Street in Little India on Oct 21 last year and asked to be taken to Block 538, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5.
But the woman threw up in the taxi just as they reached their destination.
And then her boyfriend, Dino Petrus Johannes Van Deijzen, 34, assaulted the cabby, Mr Ee Kah Ling, 43.
The Dutch design executive was jailed for three weeks yesterday after pleading guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt.
The woman was not named in court papers.
The court heard that shortly after boarding the taxi, the couple fell asleep in the rear passenger seat.
Just before 1am, as the taxi reached a carpark near Block 538, the woman vomited and Mr Ee stopped the cab and asked his passengers to alight.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Chin Jincheng said Mr Ee approached Van Deijzen to ask him to settle the taxi fare and resolve the issue of the mess in his vehicle.
He added: "However, the accused and his girlfriend ignored the victim and walked away without paying the fare.
"The victim then informed the accused that he would call the police."
Mr Ee was walking back to his taxi to retrieve his phone when Van Deijzen assaulted him. An in-vehicle camera captured the scuffle, the court heard.
The police soon arrived and an ambulance took Mr Ee to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
In mitigation, Van Deijzen's lawyer, Mr Ang Gek Peng, said his client was mild-mannered and had acted out of character. For voluntarily causing hurt, he could have been jailed up to two years and fined up to $5,000.