Norwegian meets his 2 Samaritans for first time

ST VIDEO: NG JUN SEN
Mr Corneliussen flanked by Mr Ayub (left) and Mr Roslan. The grateful Norwegian last week finally got to thank the two men who helped clear his name in an incident involving a cabbie in 2014.
Mr Corneliussen flanked by Mr Ayub (left) and Mr Roslan. The grateful Norwegian last week finally got to thank the two men who helped clear his name in an incident involving a cabbie in 2014.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

They had spoken up about assault case and helped quash his guilty plea and conviction

Had Mr Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood and Mr Roslan Zainal kept silent, no one would be any the wiser.

But speak out they did.

The colleagues at The Fullerton Hotel righted an injustice they had first noticed in a newspaper report - they became key witnesses in a retrial of Norwegian Arne Corneliussen, 52, who was originally sentenced to 10 weeks in jail for assaulting Singaporean cabbie Chan Chuan Heng, 47, at Boat Quay.

Their testimony helped quash Mr Corneliussen's guilty plea and conviction midway through his jail term - a rare occurrence.

They went on to help the courts convict Chan, who Mr Ayub, 56, and Mr Roslan, 47, said had started the altercation on the night of the incident in September 2014.

FAITH RESTORED

One thing is clear and that is there are still good people in this world. I will always remember these two kind souls.

MR ARNE CORNELIUSSEN, on Mr Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood and Mr Roslan Zainal, whose testimony helped quash the Norwegian's guilty plea and conviction midway through his jail term.

Last Thursday evening, the two men met a grateful Mr Corneliussen for the first time outside of a courtroom at the Boat Quay spot almost 2½ years after the incident. It was an idea mooted by Mr Corneliussen after his retrial last year. The men embraced and recounted the incident as Mr Corneliussen thanked them for stepping forward.

"One thing is clear and that is there are still good people in this world. I will always remember these two kind souls," said the Singapore permanent resident.

The next day, Chan was found guilty of providing false information with intent to cause a public servant to use his lawful power to injure another person.

He was also guilty of a second charge of voluntarily causing hurt to Mr Corneliussen.

His sentence will be pronounced at a later date, the court heard.

It was Chan's account in a newspaper report which compelled Mr Ayub to act. He initially had no idea the police were involved as he and Mr Roslan had left the scene early. He called Mr Roslan at once to verify that he had not imagined things.

Said Mr Ayub: "I thought that this report was not right at all, and Roslan said he was sure what he saw that night was no mistake.

"But I did not know what to do with the information."

Mr Ayub's first efforts to seek justice for Mr Corneliussen fell through the cracks. He called some newspapers and, when that went nowhere, he made a police report.

The court heard that when he did not get a response from the police, he did not give up.

Said Mr Ayub: "I know a Rajah & Tann lawyer who likes to park near our workplace, so one day I went up to him, told him the story and asked him what I can do to help."

The lawyer eventually referred them to Mr Corneliussen's defence counsel, Mr Terence Seah from Virtus Law, who got the retrial going.

Mr Roslan was willing to testify, pointing out: "We have to say something, if not it is very unfair."

Mr Corneliussen was eventually found guilty in his retrial of a lesser charge of causing hurt to Chan and was fined $2,000, but did not have to serve additional jail time.

Mr Corneliussen is thankful.

"Were it not for Ayub and Roslan, I wouldn't even be at this stage today," he said.

Still, despite feeling vindicated, Mr Corneliussen has not had a rosy time since his 2015 retrial. He was sacked from a high-paying job as a programme management director for logistics firm DHL.

He has been estranged from his Indonesian wife of four years.

And for two years, he was unable to find a job. So he started his own consulting firm.

But Mr Corneliussen remains positive about life. "When life kicks you down, you stand up again. There is always something good coming."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 15, 2017, with the headline 'Norwegian meets his 2 Samaritans for first time'. Print Edition | Subscribe