Taxi Driver Abuses Trust, Inappropriately Touches Passenger Under Pretense of Seatbelt Assistance
Singapore has long been heralded for its stringent laws, positioning itself as one of the world’s safest countries. Yet, when delving into crime statistics, even those pertaining to minor offenses, the numbers can be deeply concerning.
In the previous year alone, Singapore experienced a staggering 514.2% increase in molestation cases. A significant number of these incidents took place in nightspots.
Yet, it’s crucial to understand that nightclubs aren’t the exclusive hotspots for such heinous acts.
A recent harrowing event underscores this reality, involving a young girl, only 17 years of age.
Desperate Search Leads to an Uninvited Journey
According to Shin Min Daily News, at approximately 11:40 pm on 19 Oct, a 17-year-old girl found herself anxiously waiting at a bus stop near block 486, lane 5, at Chai Chee Port.
Her concern was evident; she believed she had inadvertently left her phone in a BlueSG shared car she had recently used with her boyfriend.
Despite her evident distress, she showed no signs of wanting to hail a taxi.
However, her vulnerable state seemed to make her an easy target for a 43-year-old taxi driver, Ler Chun Poh, also known as Lu Junbao.
He approached her with an insistent offer, not just to give her a ride home for free, but also to assist in locating her lost phone.
Feeling overwhelmed, the young lady found herself unable to decline the taxi driver’s persistent offer. Compounding her situation, she took her customary seat in the front, a habit she had formed when traveling with her family.
An Unsettling Gesture in a Supposed Safe Haven
In any typical car, a distinct beeping sound serves as a safety reminder when the seatbelt isn’t securely fastened.
Before she could even attempt to fasten it herself, Ler intrusively took it upon himself to buckle her in. It was evident from his actions that he was well aware this would cause her unease.
During the trial on 30 Oct, the victim testified that Ler’s hands made contact with her chest, applying a pressure she described as distinctly forceful.
As a teenage girl obviously weaker than a full-grown middle-aged man, she did not do anything to point out this inappropriate behaviour but had to endure it while she was already on the ride.
Most importantly, she did not have any means to contact anyone.
Upon arriving at a nearby car park close to midnight, she diligently searched for her misplaced phone, but her efforts were fruitless.
Throughout her search, Ler remained in the taxi, patiently waiting for her return.
The victim later revealed that she was “in an unstable state of mind” at the time, leading her to extend some measure of trust to the taxi driver.
After all, he could’ve just been a kind fatherly figure who wanted to help her and protect her from danger in the wee hours of night.
Unbeknownst to Her, Danger Sat Right Beside Her
As she got back into the car, she hastily tried to fasten her seatbelt before the familiar alert could sound.
However, Ler intervened once again, feigning assistance as he reached over to “help” her with the belt. When they eventually arrived at her intended destination, he took the liberty to “assist” her once more by unbuckling her seatbelt.
But it was evident that his focus wasn’t solely on the seatbelt; his hands unmistakably made contact with her chest.
Realising the sinister nature of his actions, the girl was filled with dread. Yet, maintaining her gracious demeanor, she managed to thank Ler and then sought the aid of nearby strangers to borrow a phone.
Once in possession of a phone, she immediately called her boyfriend and proceeded to another BlueSG car parking area to meet him. Only after ensuring her safety did she contact the police to report the distressing incident.
Molester Arrested Immediately But Defends Actions as “Coincidence”
The very next day after the incident, Ler found himself in custody.
During his court trial, instead of accepting the charges, Ler astonishingly defended his actions, describing them merely as a “coincidence”.
Adding insult to injury, Ler audaciously shifted the blame onto the young girl. He boldly asserted that she was responsible for the situation, claiming she created the opportunity by boarding his taxi.
During the trial, Ler took the aggressive step of directly cross-examining the victim, challenging her on why she didn’t reject or prevent the situation from escalating.
According to CNA, Ler even asked her if she felt “molestation” occurs “with interest”, saying “In order to, you know, go to you and molest, the person must have some feeling, right, for you?”
The weight of hearing such accusations is undoubtedly heavy.
It’s evident that Ler’s acts of molestation were forceful, giving the victim no chance to retaliate.
In a turn of events that ensured justice was served, District Judge Soh Tze Bian expressed a complete dismissal of Ler’s claims, stating he “totally rejected” Ler’s testimony.
The judge determined Ler to be guilty, and he is set to return to court for further mitigation and sentencing later this month.