After drinking at Zouk, man and his friend punched cabby waiting for booking to earn more money

Jessie Lim
The Straits Times
Oct 28, 2022

After a drinking session at nightclub Zouk, a man and his friend assaulted a taxi driver who was parked in River Valley Road.

On Friday, Koh Liang Cai, 30, was sentenced to four weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to voluntarily causing hurt to Mr Bernard Chan, 44, on New Year’s Day in 2020. 

Investigations revealed that Koh and Muhammad Taleb Kishen, 31, had finished a drinking session at Zouk at about 2.30am. They were accompanied by Taleb’s wife.

Koh spotted Mr Chan waiting nearby in his taxi. Mr Chan was hoping to get a taxi booking through phone call, as he would earn more money that way.

Koh and Taleb walked over to Mr Chan, and Taleb asked if the taxi driver could take his wife home. Mr Chan turned him down and said they could try getting a ride from the taxi stand at Clarke Quay instead.

Koh then punched Mr Chan near his left eye by reaching through the front passenger seat window. Taleb went over to the driver’s seat window and held the taxi driver down while Koh threw another punch at his head.

Taleb also started punching Mr Chan in the face multiple times near his right eye and nose before choking him.

At 3.50am, police officers nearby saw the assault. When they arrived, Taleb released the chokehold. Koh had left the scene by then.

On Oct 10, Taleb was sentenced to 17 weeks’ jail for assaulting Mr Chan and various other offences.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Keith Thirumaran asked for a jail term of four weeks for Koh, noting that Koh only caused pain to the taxi driver, while Taleb caused him to sustain multiple injuries, including a fracture to his nose. 

However, he noted that the taxi driver did not fight back against Koh and Taleb.

DPP Thirumaran said: “The victim did not drive his taxi away because he was afraid of injuring the people who were in the vicinity.

“Taxi drivers are vulnerable persons left to fend for themselves when they are performing their roles (as public service workers). A deterrence sentence should be meted out that such offences will not be tolerated.” 

In sentencing Koh, District Judge Eddy Tham said: “The accused’s violent behaviour arose directly from unhappiness over the delivery of service by the taxi driver or lack of it. Such violent behaviour cannot be condoned.”

In April, a man allegedly punched a taxi driver in Beach Road after he was told to leave the taxi as it had already been booked.

A chief executive of a private investment holding company was sentenced to eight weeks’ jail in June after he assaulted a taxi driver, dislocating his shoulder. 

For voluntarily causing hurt, offenders can be jailed for up to three years, fined up to $5,000, or both.

The Straits Times

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.