Suspended LTA officer caught fighting Uber driver on camera arrested by police

The enforcement officer caught on video fighting with another man on Nov 27, 2015 has been arrested. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK
Uber driver Goh Kok Ling, 59, showing the injury on his left forearm, a loose front tooth, his missing dentures from his lower gums and swollen left cheek with a small cut on Nov 28, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Uber driver Goh Kok Ling, 59, showing the injury on his left forearm, a loose front tooth, his missing dentures from his lower gums and swollen left cheek with a small cut on Nov 28, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Police have arrested a Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement officer who was caught on camera fighting with an Uber driver.

Responding to media queries, police said they arrested a 50-year-old man for affray, while a 59-year-old man is assisting police investigations.

The Uber driver, Mr Goh Kok Ling, 59, told The Straits Times on Saturday morning that he had lodged a police report on Friday night, shortly after the brawl with the LTA officer.

The incident was captured on camera by Ms Amber Pek, who uploaded the video to her Facebook page.

In a Facebook post, she wrote that she had called for an Uber driver to pick her up at the taxi stand at Bugis Junction without realising that only taxis were allowed to stop there.

She claimed that when her Uber ride arrived, an officer wearing a vest from the LTA started to scold the driver in a rude way. The driver provided his details to the officer, but the officer "threw the first punch and proceeded to kick" the driver.

In the video, a bystander could be seen trying to break up the fight.

Ms Pek has since removed her Facebook post and the video.

LTA said in a Facebook post on Friday night that it had suspended the officer.

LTA added in a Facebook post on Saturday that assistance is being rendered to Mr Goh, including the cost of his medical bills. The authority also added that the officer is engaged by the LTA. The Straits Times understands he is an employee of Ramky Cleantech Services, which provides traffic enforcement services.

Recounting Friday's incident which took place at about 7pm, Uber driver Mr Goh said Ms Pek was already at the taxi stand waiting to get in the car when he arrived. He had intended to pick her up and drive off immediately, and there were no other cabs waiting there at that time, he said.

But the LTA officer insisted that Mr Goh was not supposed to stop his car at the taxi stand.

"The officer said he would give me a chance, but he started taking pictures of my car. His tone was also very rude," said Mr Goh in Mandarin, adding that that was when he got off his car.

"I'm a driver. If a traffic officer says he wants to give me a summon, of course I would be scared. We only make a small amount from each trip," he said.

Parking a vehicle at a taxi stand is an illegal offence that carries a fine ranging from $50 to $120, depending on the vehicle type. Parking is legally defined as a vehicle stopping to wait for any other purpose other than an immediate drop-off or pick-up.

Mr Goh has been renting a car for $75 daily to work as an Uber and Grabcar driver for the past five months. He was previously a delivery man.

Mr Goh said he was angered by the officer's words and actions. When he got out of the car, the officer punched him, and the two started to fight.

"He hit me, so of course I would retaliate. But I'm not physically strong and I fell to the ground. Yet he still had to kick me in my rib cage."

A bystander broke up the fight and Mr Goh decided to send Ms Pek to her destination at Boat Quay, despite his bleeding wounds.

"It was not that far, so I decided to send her there. But I started to feel giddy after she alighted, so I drove to the police station and the officers got an ambulance for me," he added.

He lodged a police report at the Kampong Java Neighbourhood Police Centre and was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital after that.

Mr Goh is now nursing a swollen cheek, and has lost a tooth from the fight. Two other teeth are wobbly. He added that his ribs hurt, although the doctor did not find any fractures. He was asked to go home after a check-up as there was no need to stay the night at the hospital.

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His son, 28-year-old Ivan Goh, said he is worried about his father continuing to work as a private driver. "As a driver, getting frustrated with customers is part of the job. But now, even enforcement officers are creating problems."

But Mr Goh said: "If I'm healthy, I'll continue to work. I've met some very good and polite enforcement officers too."

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