Man fined for attacking credit card promoter who asked for his citizenship

Nur Azam Ab Rahman (above) was offended when Mr Cheng Chin Lin, who was promoting UOB credit cards, asked if he was a Singaporean or a permanent resident. Azam punched Mr Cheng and a scuffle followed.
Nur Azam Ab Rahman (above) was offended when Mr Cheng Chin Lin, who was promoting UOB credit cards, asked if he was a Singaporean or a permanent resident. Azam punched Mr Cheng and a scuffle followed.

Feeling offended that a credit card promoter had asked if he was a Singaporean or Singapore permanent resident (PR), a prison officer launched an unprovoked attack on the man, punching him several times on the face and stomach.

Nur Azam Ab Rahman, 31, yesterday admitted hurting Mr Cheng Chin Lin, 24, and was fined $2,000.

Azam was at Tampines Bus Interchange at Block 512, Tampines Central 1, on April 16 last year when Mr Cheng asked if he was a Singaporean or a PR.

This was a normal question to ask as he was promoting United Overseas Bank's credit cards. But Azam took offence and replied: "Do I look like a PR to you?" After a brief exchange, Mr Cheng was trying to calm the agitated Azam when the latter punched him. Mr Cheng then tried to hold onto Azam's bag to prevent him from leaving the area, which resulted in Azam punching and kicking the victim again.

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Deputy Public Prosecutor Siti Adrianni Marhain said Azam flung the victim's mobile phone during a scuffle.

Midway through the incident, someone took video footage showing Mr Cheng holding Azam in a headlock while Azam repeatedly punched the victim's stomach.

After Azam broke free from the headlock, he kicked the victim in the head and grabbed his hair.

A bystander broke up the scuffle.

When Mr Cheng said he wanted to call the police, Azam walked away. Mr Cheng followed him and Azam landed two more hits to his head. The victim got Azam in another headlock, but Azam escaped and punched Mr Cheng in the head.

Mr Cheng was later diagnosed with multiple contusions.

DPP Siti Adrianni asked for a "high fine", saying the offence took place for some time in a public place and was completely unprovoked.

District Judge Kenneth Yap remarked that the headlock was "quite an aggressive way to detain a person".

Azam's lawyer, Mr T.M. Sinnadurai, said it was a firm headlock, which his client was trying to get out of. He added that the victim was bigger than his client. The video also showed Azam trying to console his toddler daughter, who appeared to be "fearful and crying".

The father of two had paid the victim $350 as compensation, was very remorseful and utterly regretted his actions, the lawyer said.

Azam could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'Man fined for attacking credit card promoter who asked for his citizenship'. Print Edition | Subscribe