Duo step in to protect bus driver assaulted in mask dispute

Mr Clement Tan (far left) and Mr Muhammad Mu'tasim Kassim helped to subdue a passenger who was assaulting a bus driver in September last year.
Mr Clement Tan (left) and Mr Muhammad Mu'tasim Kassim helped to subdue a passenger who was assaulting a bus driver in September last year.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Mr Pu Zong Han chased and detained a teenage thief at Eunos MRT Station in March last year.
(From left) SCDF officers Muhd Khalid Abdulah Sani, Zamri Amran, Ngui Hook Siong, Muhammad Shafi'i Rahmat, Sulaiman Ahmad, Sharul'izam Oshman at Bedok Police Division on Wednesday. They had helped arrest a man who molested a female bus passenger in March last year.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
(From left) SCDF officers Muhd Khalid Abdulah Sani, Zamri Amran, Ngui Hook Siong, Muhammad Shafi'i Rahmat, Sulaiman Ahmad, Sharul'izam Oshman at Bedok Police Division on Wednesday. They had helped arrest a man who molested a female bus passenger in M
Mr Pu Zong Han chased and detained a teenage thief at Eunos MRT Station in March last yearST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Two men who rushed into a bus to tackle a man who was assaulting the driver were presented an award for their public-spiritedness yesterday.

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 decided to approach the bus and check. He 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 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 the police in a statement yesterday.

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 occurring over mask incidents.

Mr Mu'tasim and Mr Tan were among 10 presented with the Public Spiritedness Award at Bedok Police Division yesterday.

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 were doing their morning run along Mountbatten Road in 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 the bus. The suspect tried to flee but was caught after a chase by the officers.

The 10th award recipient, who wished to remain anonymous, was commended for assisting the police in the arrest of a man for voyeurism.

At the commendation ceremony, Assistant Commissioner of Police and Commander of Bedok Police Division Julius Lim said: "The recipients of the Public Spiritedness Award exemplify the sense of community responsibility that is required for all of us during these difficult times... These individuals had put their safety on the line to uphold the rule of law.

"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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2021, with the headline 'Duo step in to protect bus driver assaulted in mask dispute'. Subscribe