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Former cleaner jailed for spitting at his supervisor at MRT station

Former cleaner jailed for spitting at his supervisor at MRT station

File photo of the State Courts in Singapore (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Angered over a dispute with his supervisor, a cleaner who was supposed to sanitise areas at a train station spat at his supervisor's face after he was told that he would be transferred to another work location.

Kang Poh Kim, 70, was sentenced to two weeks' jail on Thursday (Dec 2) for one count of criminal force for spitting at his supervisor, a 50-year-old woman.

Kang conversed directly with the judge during his hearing, requesting for leniency as he was "old people" and asking the judge why he was "bringing up the past" when his list of past convictions was read out.

He was initially accused of spitting thrice at the victim, but insisted he did so only once. The charge and statement of facts were amended to indicate that he spat at the victim, without any mention of the number of times.

The court heard that Kang was a cleaner deployed to Tuas Link MRT Station. 

On the morning of Jul 30 this year, his supervisor instructed him to sanitise areas at the concourse, including the train gantries and top-up machines.

Kang refused to comply with her instructions and raised his voice at her, the prosecutor said.

The victim ignored him and proceeded to clean the touch points on his behalf, before informing the management of their cleaning company about Kang's behaviour.

This was not the first time Kang had refused to comply with her instructions, the court heard.

Later that day, the area supervisor of their cleaning firm went down to the train station, told Kang that he would be transferred to another work location, and escorted him to the storeroom to change out of his uniform.

The victim was carrying out her cleaning duties when Kang confronted her later. He spat at her, with the spittle landing on her face. The area supervisor saw this and quickly intervened.

When asked in court if he admitted to these facts, Kang claimed that the area supervisor wanted to box him, and that the victim never gave him instructions on how to work.

He claimed that another person was supposed to clean the platform area, but was not there on the day of the incident.

"I say 'No, my section area is on the concourse'. So she call me on the phone and I shouted at her. Yeah, I did shout at her, 'You should get somebody to replace the person who is absent, not me'. She's just not right. And arrogant, bully, liar," said Kang, who was unrepresented.

"But that doesn't give you a licence to spit at her," said District Judge Bala Reddy. "That is your version, Mr Kang."

The judge later confirmed with Kang that he was admitting to the charge and the statement of facts, and convicted him. 

He then read out to Kang his list of past convictions, dating from 2013. In April 2013, Kang was given a fine of S$400 for using abusive and threatening language, but did not pay the fine and instead went to jail for two days.

In February 2015, he was fined for affray and using threatening, abusive and insulting words.


"Yes sir, but the police investigation is wrong, I did not witness anything, because I did complain against this police officer and she's not happy with me," interjected Kang.

"You are not being convicted of that now, you were convicted of that in 2015," said the judge.

"May I ask a question?" asked Kang. "Why you bring up the past? It's already over. You are doing this to bring up extra charge."

The judge said: "Let me explain to you. When a person has not been convicted of any charge, he comes to court, his sentence will be lower.

"When it comes to the second time, it will be higher. The third time, it will be even higher," said the judge.

"And when there's a pandemic, it will be even worse."

"I agree with you," answered Kang, who is currently jobless. "I agree with the judge."

In mitigation, Kang asked if the judge could make the sentence lower for him. He said at the start of the hearing that he was "old people", to which the judge responded that "you are still younger than me".

"I'm prepared, I'm prepared," said Kang. "But many things the law is not right."

"You see, Mr Kang, I don't make the law," answered the judge.

"Human la sir, human. Sometimes, cannot (control), I tell myself, but cannot," said Kang.

After the judge sentenced him to two weeks' jail, Kang said two weeks was "too long".

For using criminal force, he could have been jailed up to three months, fined up to S$1,500, or both.

Source: CNA/ll


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