Unpopular opinion: The girl in the GoJek case was actually correct.

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Bear with me, just for a moment…

Forget the drama on social media. Forget you’ve watched the video. Forget that the ERP costs only $1. If you’re Chinese, forget that for a moment too.

Now imagine being familiar with a journey, one that you’ve never paid ERP for. (According to the Straits Times, this journey does exist, via Thomson-Bugis)

Then today, your driver took a new route and the machine beeps. You look ahead and there are a few more gantries waiting to be passed. The CTE is known to be a very expensive expressway, on GPS it is aptly labelled the “toll route”.

You’re angry. You don’t know how to drive, which is why you hailed a driver.

But the driver doesn’t know either – he’s not exactly a taxi driver, merely a Private Hire. He wasn’t trained in roads, landmarks, ERP timings. He (probably) doesn’t know the shortcuts, the road nuances and characteristics of the traffic as a seasoned taxi driver would.

To get a Private Driver’s Vocational Licence, you just need to pay $155.15 for a 1 day course from 9am to 6pm. You’ll be briefed on service quality, health and safety and the general rules and regulations. That’s it.

And then there is dispute with the driver. Things heat up. 

Then suddenly, he takes you to a destination you did not ask for. He claims it is the police station – but how do you really know? 

Even if it was the police station, you may not drive someone there against his/her consent. There is no crime committed and there is no grounds for any sort of arrest, not even a citizen’s arrest.  

In detaining the girl and bringing her to a police station, the PHV driver has indeed exposed himself to criminal charges. False imprisonment, wrongful arrest or unlawful restraint. 

The Chinese girl is correct. Her rights are being violated.

The Penal Code provides guidance:

S.339 Whoever voluntarily obstructs any person, so as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed, is said wrongfully to restrain that person.

S.340 Whoever wrongfully restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits, is said “wrongfully to confine” that person.

The driver is wrong to have driven her to the police station. The only grounds he has is that he was making a citizen’s (or civilian’s) arrest. But this has limits.

The only situation where someone can make a citizen’s arrest, is he/she is CERTAIN that an offence has been committed or has witnessed the actual commission of a SERIOUS crime. 

S.66 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows a civilian to arrest any person but only on the grounds that this person has committed or is committing an ARRESTABLE offence.

Examples of an arrestable offence include: unlawful assembly, impersonation of public servant, affray, poisoning of water sources, rash/negligent driving, rape, obscene acts, theft and robbery, outrage of modesty…and so on.

What he should have done, is alight her at a safe point as soon as possible and allow Go Jek to deal with her for her non-payment. 

At least by procedure and the letter of the law, the girl was right. This was a restraint on her freedom for no good reason. 

However, she has behaved in such a manner that all sympathy for her had been swept away. 

It is a shame. 

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