SINGAPORE: The primary school relief teacher assumed it was traffic congestion or an accident as he made his way home to Woodlands from his parent’s house in Chai Chee at 4pm last Wednesday (Nov 27).
But then Khairil Anwar Tahir, 39, saw a bare-footed, middle-aged man using a hammer to hit oncoming vehicles in the middle of the road along Bedok North Road.
“What am I going to do to stop him from getting hurt (and) hitting more vehicles?” Mr Khairil recalled of his thoughts that afternoon.
Mr Khairil said he then parked his motorbike on the side of the road and got off.
“Oi! Stop! What are you doing!” Mr Khairil recalled shouting as he stood on the curb about 10m away from the man.
But the man looked dazed and was unresponsive, said Mr Khairil, who teaches physical education.
Knowing that approaching the man could endanger himself, he quickly called the police.
Sergeant Wong Cheuk Kay, 25, who was off-duty that day, was driving along the same road when he saw the incident.
He parked his car behind Mr Khairil’s motorbike and identified himself as a police officer to Mr Khairil. He also called the police and asked Mr Khairil to direct traffic in the meantime.
He did not approach the man as he was concerned that he might say something wrong and “escalate the situation”, said Mr Wong.
Mr Wong also said in one instance, the driver of a lorry that the man had hit was agitated, and he had to run across the street to calm the driver down.
When the police arrived, Mr Wong briefed Sergeant Lee Wei Liang, 23, on what had happened.
Mr Lee walked towards the man as Mr Wong waited behind, and called out to the man.
But the man did not respond and continued to damage oncoming vehicles, including a second lorry.
When the man’s back was turned towards Mr Lee, the officer saw the opportunity to neutralise him.
Mr Lee pounced on the man, grabbed his hands and pulled the hammer out from the man’s grip.
The rest of the officers and Mr Khairil immediately came forward to help pin the man down.
Mr Wong said the man spoke incoherently in Mandarin as he laid on the ground while they tried to pull his hands from under his body and handcuff him.
According to the police, the 66-year-old man is “believed to be of unsound mind”. He was arrested for committing a rash act and charged a day after the incident.
For assisting the police, Mr Khairil was given the Public Spiritedness Award by the Singapore Police Force on Monday.
Mr Khairil, who said that it was a “pleasant surprise” receiving the call about the award, said he hopes that Singaporeans will be ready to help or call the police when there is an emergency.
“It’s our duty as a member of the public … to look out for each other,” he said.
Commander of the Bedok Police Division and Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Julius Lim added that having “everyday citizens stepping up” makes a difference in “trying to restore safety and security on our own streets”.