'Selfish' driver who punched another motorist after blocking the road gets driving ban

SINGAPORE - An "irresponsible and selfish" driver who parked his car indiscriminately and punched another motorist for sounding his horn at him has been handed a one-year driving ban by the High Court, in addition to his jail term for causing hurt.

Odd-job worker Fizul Asrul Efandi, 30, initially escaped the driving ban after the district judge who sentenced him to 16 weeks' jail felt that his two punches did not arise from situations connected to driving.

Under the law, the court can disqualify offenders from driving if their offence "arose from or was connected with a dispute... over the use of the road or public place".

The district judge said the first punch happened as a result of Fizul being agitated by the victim, 54-year-old Chong Kok Soon, sounding his horn, while the the second punch arose from Fizul's agitation over the victim using his mobile phone to call the police after he had been assaulted.

Prosecutors appealed for a driving ban, arguing that the district judge's approach in analysing Fizul's motivation for each punch was too narrow. Moreover, Fizul was a repeat offender with a road-related conviction in 2014.

The High Court agreed and allowed the prosecution's appeal.

In a judgment published on Wednesday (May 16), Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang said the offence was clearly one which had arisen from or was connected with a dispute over the use of a road.

On Sept 11, 2016, Fizul stopped his car along Woodlands Centre Road in front of Block 4A. At that location, each of the three lanes of the road is separated by a divider.

Without turning on his hazard lights and with a female passenger in the car, he got down from the car to go to a nearby ATM to withdraw money.

Shortly after, Mr Chong drove into the same lane and realised his way forward was blocked, but he could not reverse out as another car had come up behind him.

When Fizul returned minutes later, Mr Chong sounded his horn. Fizul then confronted him through his wound-down window, saying "You cannot wait ah?"

Fizul challenged Mr Chong to step out of the car, then spat on him and threw a punch at him, knocking him to the ground. When Mr Chong tried to call the police, Fizul punched him a second time.

Fizul's passenger then pulled him away and they drove off.

Justice Tay said it was not realistic to dissect the sequence of events into distinct parts.

"One action then led to a corresponding reaction but they were all linked causally and closely to the respondent's irresponsible and selfish hoarding of the road space," said the judge.

Justice Tay said Fizul could have at least turned on his hazard lights or apologised for blocking the road. Instead, he chose to be rude and "totally uncivil" by spitting at the victim and then punching him.

"It is clearly in the public interest that aggressive drivers who do not control their anger and who pose a danger to the safety of other road users should not be allowed to drive for an appropriate period of time," he said.

Fizul argued that he needed to drive his two oldest children to their schools as school transport was expensive.

This cut no ice with the judge, who noted it was "odd" that Fizul believed maintaining a rented car would be be more viable economically than paying for school transport.