Woman jailed for throwing sign at SIA employee

Chang Lihui had thrown a sign at a Singapore Airlines (SIA) ticketing staff to vent her anger as she could not get her boarding pass at the airport.
Chang Lihui had thrown a sign at a Singapore Airlines (SIA) ticketing staff to vent her anger as she could not get her boarding pass at the airport. PHOTO: POLICE

Staff had refused to issue boarding pass to her over credit card details

A woman threw a sign at a Singapore Airlines (SIA) ticketing staff member after she failed to get a boarding pass at Changi Airport for a flight bought using a family member's credit card.

The 25cm by 6cm sign hit the victim's face and she suffered an open wound each on the nose and her left eyebrow.

Yesterday, China national Chang Lihui, 33, was sentenced to 24 days in jail for hurting Ms Sharin Chan Suet Gek, 30, by acting so rashly as to endanger the latter's personal safety on June 11.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia said Chang had gone to Changi Airport that evening to collect her SIA ticket after she had used a family member's credit card to book the ticket.

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Ms Chan checked and confirmed that Chang had an air ticket booked under her name. But she found that the details on the passport did not match the credit card details. When asked, Chang said the credit card belonged to a family member in Beijing. She could not verify who the person was nor whether the owner had consented to the purchase.

Chang requested the boarding pass, saying she had called the airline earlier to book the ticket.

But Ms Chan said she was unable to issue the boarding pass as Chang could not verify who owned the credit card. Ms Chan advised her to inform the owner to contact the SIA office in China to confirm consent for the purchase. Chang said she did not have a mobile phone with her and she was unable to reach the credit card's owner. She shouted and used abusive words against Ms Chan, said DPP Teo.

Ms Chan sought the help of her male colleague, who told Chang that the airline could not accede to her request. Chang refused to listen and scolded him. He then left the victim alone with Chang.

Chang asked for a refund, but Ms Chan said it would take two to three weeks to process her request. Chang became angrier and pointed a finger at Ms Chan, scolding her at the same time. Ms Chan moved backwards and told her supervisor over the phone about the situation.

Chang then picked up a "Counter Closed" sign and forcefully threw it towards Ms Chan. It hit her face and she screamed in pain, as the cuts on her left eyebrow and nose bridge started bleeding. Chang was arrested at her hotel the next day. An Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist said she has schizophrenia, but was not of unsound mind at the time of the offence.

DPP Teo had asked for a sentence of at least three weeks in jail, given the extent and severity of the victim's injuries, potential serious harm and targeting of a vulnerable spot. Chang, whose sentence was backdated to July 1, could have been jailed for up to one year and/or fined up to $5,000 for the offence.

In general, passengers who travel on tickets bought by family members or friends are advised to inform the airlines of their travel arrangement. They are also told to have a photocopy of the card used to purchase the ticket and an authorisation letter from the cardholder.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2017, with the headline 'Woman jailed for throwing sign at SIA employee'. Print Edition | Subscribe