The man who was caught on camera mocking a taxi driver in a viral video tried to apologise in unusual fashion yesterday - by giving out free packets of chicken rice to cabbies.
The unlikely giveaway at Mr Gary Lim's two restaurants - Yeo Keng Nam restaurant in Braddell Road and The Yang's Traditional Hainanese Chicken Rice in Serangoon Road - was arranged after Mr Lim, 37, was caught on camera harassing a taxi driver and telling him that he "cannot do big things" because of his profession.
He had also tried to pay for his $12.45 fare with a $1,000 note at about 2.50am last Thursday. He claimed he was drunk at the time and unaware of what he was doing.
After the video circulated online, Mr Lim was widely criticised, especially after his identity was revealed. The restaurants were apparently also harassed by numerous phone calls. Netizens urged him to apologise to the driver, known only as Mr Sun. Mr Lim did so last Saturday in a phone call facilitated by Shin Min Daily News.
Following the apology, he pledged to give 100 packets of chicken rice to taxi drivers between 3pm and 5pm yesterday at each of his two outlets. The giveaway at the Braddell branch was extended to the store's opening hours of 10.30am to 10pm, as taxi drivers did not have predictable mealtimes, said Mr Liu Ah Zhong, manager of Yeo Keng Nam restaurant.
In all, at least 60 packets of chicken rice, as well as canned drinks, were given out at the two outlets. A packet of chicken rice costs $4.10.
When The Straits Times visited the Braddell Road restaurant yesterday, Mr Liu said some 40 to 50 packets had been given out by 3pm. ST saw two cabbies between 2pm and 4pm. At the Serangoon branch, three drivers turned up between 3pm and 5pm, ST checks showed. Mr Lim did not show up at either outlet during those times.
The Serangoon branch started the giveaway at 3pm, but its manager, who wanted to be known as Mr Tan, 25, told ST that chicken rice packets would be given free to taxi drivers until the shop closed at 11pm. Both restaurants also did not limit the number of packets to be given to cabbies, who also received more rice and chicken if they asked.
Cabbies picking upthe free meal at the outlet did not seem angry, and were quite friendly, said Mr Liu.
Premier taxi driver Peter Chang, 59, who took a packet at the Braddell Road restaurant, told ST he has forgiven Mr Lim after he apologised.
Mr Chang said he has never encountered a passenger like Mr Lim in his 20 years of driving a taxi. "I saw on Shin Min that he apologised sincerely and agreed to distribute 200 packets of chicken rice - that's not a small sum."
Mr Yu Fook Wah, 58, a Comfort cabby who visited the Serangoon branch, said: "Even though what he did was wrong, I want to thank him for giving us taxi drivers free chicken rice."
•Additional reporting by Lim Yaohui