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Little India Riot COI: Bus drivers decided 2 years ago not to ferry drunk workers

Published on Feb 20, 2014 11:21 AM

Timekeeper Madam Wong Geck Woon said that there have been instances in the past when Indian workers who are drunk have urinated and vomitted inside buses ferrying them back to their dormitories from Little India.

Taking the stand for first time on Thursday since the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into last year's Little India riot began the day before, the 38-year-old told the court that as a result, bus drivers decided among themselves about two years ago not to ferry drunk workers.

"Ultimately the bus drivers decide if they want to allow drunk workers to board," she said in Mandarin. She added that some drivers may still be kind enough to let drunk workers board their buses while others would not allow this as they worry about the their vomitting and the subsequent clean-up.

She has also noted a rise in problems on board buses created as a result of drunk workers and has heard of some who fall asleep on a field near Race Course Road and later take taxis back to their dormitories. Madam Wong was coordinating buses along Tekka Lane on Dec 8 when she ordered 33-year-old Indian construction worker Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu to get off a bus which later ran over him. The fatal traffic accident allegedly sparked the riot.

Police officers examining the wrecked private bus at the aftermath of the Little India riot in the early hours on Dec 9, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Madam Wong said that there were three timekeepers - including herself- as well as a supervisor under the Singapore School Transport Association (SSTA), who worked on Sundays along the Tekka Lane stretch. They worked alone, looking after buses headed for different dormitories such as those in Jalan Papan, Kranji, Mandai, Woodlands and Tuas. Madam Wong, who worked part-time, said she is currently taking a "rest" and may go back to work with the SSTA in the near future.