SINGAPORE - Two men who rushed into a bus to tackle a man who was assaulting the driver were presented an award for their public spiritedness on Wednesday (Jan 20).
Mr Muhammad Mu'tasim Kassim was walking along Pasir Ris Drive 1 on Sept 15 last year when he saw a group of students alighting at a bus stop.
"I found it a bit strange because those students usually do not alight at that particular bus stop," said the 26-year-old University of Buffalo student. He walked towards the bus to check, and saw a passenger berating a bus driver, and then punching him.
The assailant had boarded bus service 21 two stops earlier without wearing a mask.
When the 39-year-old bus driver told him to put on his mask, the commuter got angry. He grabbed the bus driver's neck and collar and threw punches at him after the driver stopped the bus in front of Block 210 to wait for the police to arrive.
Meanwhile, Mr Clement Tan, 29, a financial consultant, was waiting at the bus stop when the bus pulled up.
When he saw the passenger assaulting the driver, he immediately rushed into the bus to intervene, together with Mr Mu'tasim and another man, who has not been identified.
The three men pulled the assailant out of the bus and subdued him. While restraining the man, they discovered that he had a knife on him, which they quickly removed, said police in a statement on Wednesday.
The man was subsequently handed over to police officers and later charged with voluntarily causing hurt and possessing an offensive weapon. He was jailed for 16 weeks on Dec 16.
There were about 40 cases of assault on public bus staff last year, with half of them over mask incidents.
Mr Mu'tasim and Mr Tan were among 10 presented with the Public Spiritedness Award at Bedok Police Division on Wednesday.
Also commended were Mr Pu Zong Han, who chased and detained a teenage thief at Eunos MRT station last March, and six Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers from Kallang Fire Station who helped arrest a man who had molested a female bus passenger.
The SCDF officers from the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) were doing their morning run along Mountbatten Road on March last year when they saw a commotion at a bus stop.
On checking, they were told by the bus driver that a man had molested a woman on board the bus. The suspect tried to flee but was caught after a chase by the SCDF officers.
The 10th award recipient, who wished to remain anonymous, was commended for assisting the police in the arrest of a man for a case of voyeurism.
Said Assistant Commissioner of Police Julius Lim at the commendation ceremony: "The recipients of the Public Spiritedness Award exemplify the sense of community responsibility that is required for all of us during these difficult times."
"From standing up to violent bullies to chasing down sex offenders, these individuals had put their safety on the line to uphold the rule of law," added AC Lim, who is the Commander of Bedok Police Division.
"Bedok Police Division is proud to count them as our partners and hope their examples will inspire others to step forward to keep our neighbourhoods safe."