SINGAPORE - When ComfortDelGro cab driver Ng Chin Yiau knew a crash was imminent, he put his hand in front of his passenger to cushion the impact of being thrown forward.
The 32-year-old front-seat passenger, who gave her name only as Ms Lim, escaped unscathed, though she was visibly shaken.
On Thursday (Nov 1), Mr Ng, 42, was one of 25 public transport workers to receive the Outstanding Award at a Transport Gold awards event held at the Istana where President Halimah Yacob was guest of honour.
Recalling the incident which happened in July last year, Mr Ng said he was driving along Sembawang Road when a car suddenly veered into his lane. When he was forced to slow down, it resulted in a lorry hitting his taxi in the back.
Not only did Mr Ng shield his passenger, he took her to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital for a check-up and then sent her to her home in Woodlands.
It was only later that he realised he had sustained injuries in the process of protecting her. The back of his left hand had been badly bruised, and it only healed after a week.
"Someone has entrusted their life and safety to me. It is my responsibility to make sure that she is fine when an accident happens," said Mr Ng, a former salesman who has been driving taxis for about three years.
On Thursday, 445 transport workers from sectors such as bus, rail and taxi operations were commended for their acts of kindness on the job.
Into its 19th year, the Transport Gold awards event is organised by the Land Transport Authority and Singapore Kindness Movement, and supported by public transport companies and associations.
Besides Mr Ng, SMRT station managers S. Nadarajan, 53, and Muhammad Noh Abdul Sukor, 35, also received the Outstanding Award.
Mr Nadarajan, while working at Bras Basah MRT station in March, had noticed an elderly commuter at the station in distress during the morning rush hour.
It turned out that he had soiled himself as he was ill.
Mr Nadarajan helped him to the toilet to clean himself, and got him a new pair of trousers as well as rubber sandals.
"(The commuter) was initially very helpless and did not know what to do, but I was glad that he could move on and carry on with his day's tasks after that. It's part of our duty to look out for situations like this at the MRT station," said Mr Nadarajan, who has been with SMRT for 30 years.
As for Mr Muhammad Noh, he received a letter of appreciation from the Bedok South Neighbourhood Police Centre for his professional handling of a molestation case earlier last year.
A female passenger in her 30s had approached him at Tanah Merah MRT station and said she was molested on the train.
When he went to investigate, the suspect had already been pinned down by two men at the station's underpass.
Mr Muhammad Noh noticed that the suspect had cut his forehead in the scuffle and was bleeding from the forehead.
While waiting for Public Transport Security Command officers, he gave first aid to the suspect and stood guard over him to prevent him from escaping.
Asked why he tended to the suspect, he said: "Whether you are a suspect or not, we are all humans (and deserve to have our needs looked after)."
Dr William Wan, secretary-general of the Singapore Kindness Movement, said that the unceasing efforts of Singapore's 22,000 public transport workers are behind the herculean task of making six million commuter journeys possible every day.
"In the wee hours of the morning, while most of us are still asleep, at the height the noonday sun, while we are having our lunch... you the bus captains, train and cab drivers, the timekeepers, the station masters and assistants, technicians, mechanics and engineers, are all hard at work - making sure that we are efficiently served."
"For that, you deserve our salute," he said.