SINGAPORE: A 72-year-old architect is on trial for allegedly punching a driver along Telok Ayer Street in 2014 when he refused to move his car to make way for her Ferrari.
Shi Ka Yee honked and shouted at the driver, 39-year-old Raphael Chong Yen Ping, before getting out of her red Ferrari, approaching Mr Chong’s car, a BMW, and reaching through the window to punch him in the face.
This was after he pointed out there was more than enough room for her to pass, Mr Chong said on Monday (Jun 5), the first day of Shi’s trial.
Telok Ayer Street is a one-way street, but it was “wide enough for even tour buses to drive through”, Mr Chong said. He added that in the five to 10 minutes he spent idling by the side of the street waiting for a parking space, “plenty” of other cars and buses had passed him.
The incident with Shi took place at about 5pm on Feb 25, 2014, when Shi stopped her Ferrari next to Mr Chong’s car and demanded he move so she could pass through. A passer-by intervened and offered to help direct traffic – Shi had stopped her car in the middle of the street, causing traffic to be backed up – but she refused.
Shi got out of her car, walked to Mr Chong, who remained in his car in the driver’s seat, and punched him. Mr Chong, who suffered a cut above his right eyebrow, said he was “in a state of shock”. “I told her I’d report this to the police, and she told me ‘go ahead’”, Mr Chong told the court.
Shi drove off – despite her claim that there was no room for her Ferrari to pass – before the police arrived, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt heard.
Shi’s lawyer Irving Choh claimed his client had not punched Mr Chong. “It was only a slap”, Mr Choh said, “because of what you had said to her”. According to Shi, Mr Chong had “uttered vulgarities” at her and insulted her, Mr Choh said. He said Shi had slapped Mr Chong “instinctively”.
“I DIDN’T EXPECT THAT FROM A LADY”: WITNESS
But the prosecution’s second witness, Mr Stephen Choy Ying Whye, said he heard Mr Chong say nothing of the sort.
Mr Choy said he had asked Shi whether she wanted his help to “guide her through the spot”, but she refused. “I thought because her car was an expensive car that she didn’t want to take the chance”, Mr Choy said. But he pointed out that a large pickup truck ahead of Shi’s Ferrari had driven by without trouble, “so I was confident the Ferrari could pass through”, Mr Choy said.
He added that he heard Mr Chong tell Shi: “Don’t blame me if you’re a lousy driver.” And that’s when Shi reached into the car and punched him, Mr Choy said. "It was a punch", he repeated, when Shi's lawyer asked him if it "could have been a slap".
Mr Choy could not recall whether Shi threw the punch with her left or right hand, but remembered that “it was the hand with lots of rings”. A cut above Mr Chong’s right eyebrow started bleeding immediately, Mr Choy said. Shi tried to punch Mr Chong a second time, but the driver managed to dodge her. Then Shi “stomped off and drove off”, he told the court.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhuo Wenzhao remarked that Mr Choy could remember the events that took place over three years ago well - to which Mr Choy responded: “Something like this doesn’t happen every day.
“I was quite taken aback … I didn’t expect that from a lady.”
The trial continues on Jun 29.
If convicted of causing hurt, Shi could be jailed up to two years and/or fined S$5,000.
SHI FACES MORE CHARGES FOR HARASSMENT, TRESPASS, WRONGFUL RESTRAINT
Shi faces six more charges unrelated to the incident, including for harassing her neighbour Mr Nasrat Lucas Muzayyin and trespassing on his property.
The incident involved a rain tree on Shi’s property at 12 Astrid Hill, which had branches hanging over the Muzayyins’ property next door.
When Mr Muzayyin hired an arborist to trim the branches of the tree, Shi allegedly told him: “You cut my tree, my tree is living thing, I hope your kids die (sic).”
Shi also removed the key from the ignition of the arborist’s cherry picker, leaving the man stranded up on the rain tree for an hour. To stop Shi from getting away, Mr Muzayyin stood in front of her Porsche as she prepared to drive off – but this did not stop her. Instead, Shi revved her engine and edged her car towards him.
The neighbours’ dispute ended up before the High Court after Mr Muzayyin sued Shi “for the nuisance of her ever-growing rain tree”, for Shi’s trespass onto his land and for assault, because Shi had put him “in fear of injury”.
Mr Muzayyin won, and Shi was ordered to pay thousands in damages. Shi’s appeal was later blocked by the High Court. Justice Choo Han Teck said: “There is no merit in letting this case incur any more court time when cases with greater social issues are waiting in line.”
Shi was subsequently slapped with criminal charges arising out of the incident on Feb 17, 2015.
She faces another two charges for allegedly stopping her car in the middle of Orchard Road, bringing traffic to a halt, to tell another driver to “return to China”.