Saturday 15 December 2018
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todayonline - 8 days ago

DPP seeks 2 weeks’ jail for ex-bus driver who caused pedestrian’s defence asks for fine

SINGAPORE — The former SBS Transit bus driver had just begun his work day, and was on his way to pick up his first passengers when he failed to notice a pedestrian crossing the road at Jalan Boon Lay. Kwa Ah Bah, an ex-bus captain of 40 years, hit 46-year-old Tan Meow Hiang with the vehicle, and she died from her injuries in the hospital later that morning. He has since been fired by the public transport operator. Kwa, 67, had pleaded guilty to one count of causing death by a negligent act in October. On Friday (Dec 7), Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Senthilkumaran Sabapathy called for two weeks’ jail and a five-year driving ban for Kwa, while his defence lawyer Simon Tan asked for a fine instead. District Judge Ng Peng Hong adjourned sentencing to Dec 13. Video footage from the bus’ front-facing, in-vehicle camera showing the incident was played in court on Friday. On Nov 8 last year at about 6.30am, Kwa was driving his bus along Jalan Boon Lay towards Boon Lay Way on the extreme left lane of the three-lane road. Meanwhile, Tan had stepped off the centre divider of the road and walked across two of three lanes. The Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia had left her home in Johor Bahru earlier that morning, and was on her way to work across the Causeway. It is unclear what her occupation was. Driving his off-service bus, Kwa failed to keep a proper lookout and did not spot her. DPP Senthilkumaran said: “He thus did not slow down as he approached the deceased, when the deceased was right in front of the SBS bus in the left most lane of the road, the accused applied his brakes and swerved the bus slightly to the right. He was, nevertheless, unable to avoid colliding into the deceased.” The DPP also noted that Tan was not jaywalking as there was no pedestrian crossing or overhead bridge within 50 metres. The nearest one was 300m ahead at the road junction. She was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries at about 8.30am. JAIL TIME VS FINE DPP Senthilkumaran pointed out some “strong” mitigating factors in calling for jail time and a driving ban for Kwa. He noted that the incident did not happen at a pedestrian crossing, and that Kwa had kept a clean driving record throughout his four decades as a bus driver. Nevertheless, Kwa should still serve a custodial sentence, given that Tan had crossed most of the road by that point and the bus driver should have seen her, the prosecutor added. In his client’s mitigation plea, Mr Tan said that there was no indication Kwa had been driving fast or recklessly. At the time, his visibility was impaired due to the early hour and wet road. The lawyer also rebutted DPP Senthilkumaran’s point on Tan having crossed two out of three lanes when Kwa struck her. Mr Tan said: “It means he would have had very little time to brake. There were also barricades (in the middle of the road) to prevent people from crossing the road… the decreased was crossing at a place drivers wouldn’t think anyone would cross.” He also revealed that Kwa lost his daughter and mother in a traffic accident in 1997, which resulted in him taking more precautions on the road. Given Kwa’s age, Mr Tan urged the judge not to jail his client. “The fact that he’s been unceremoniously dismissed over one case of negligence is enough,” he added.

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