Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Unlicensed Driver

They say your destiny is already written. But sometimes you just have to grab a pen and become the author of your life. Or for some, it means grabbing a bunch of keys and driving illegally.

Considering this to be my most controversial post for 2014 (just yet), and if you have been following my social media accounts recently, you would have realized i started 2014 with a bang, literally. And because i have cleared with my lawyers again and again and again before penning this post, any threats except a death threat isn't going to stop me from writing this.

On 17 January 2014 (close to midnight), i was hit on my rear bumper by a car. The driver, Chia Chin Herng did not possess a valid driving license. The story is straightforward, even though the driver was extremely dramatic at that point of time (refer to my tweets) - he begged me to not call the cops but i eventually did (it was the right and ethical thing to do).

Funny enough, the traffic police took 55 minutes to arrive. Talk about efficiency, i tell you straight in your face - none. Before the traffic police could arrive, the driver called his brother, K* to the scene of the accident. K* arrived in a BMW, and talked about disputing the matter privately. I nicely told him that his brother did not possess a valid driving license but he brushed me off as if it was a small issue. The unlicensed driver turned out to be driving his friend's dad's car.

His car's number plate flew off and there was a crack on my rear bumper, which they had agreed to fix and bear all the damages. K* decided to take his brother home before the TP could arrive. Not sure who to blame - the TP for taking so long to arrive, or that K* just wanted to "try and save his brother's ass."

They eventually realized that their fallen number plate was with me, and wanted it back. In return, i asked for a black and white email with the driver's particulars to be sent to me saying he would bear all the damages. This was to ensure that if they ever went missing or did not acknowledge the incident, i had something to back me up . The driver eventually sent an email and i decided to return to them the number plate.

And so i gullibly trusted that he would stick to his words about agreeing to repair the damages, as quoted by him. The next day, i went to my regular car workshop that i have been religiously sending my car to for servicing and asked for the driver to meet me there. His brother K* appeared instead on behalf of him.

My workshop quoted an amount which K* thought was too high, he wanted a second opinion and brought me to another workshop which specializes in spray painting. Note again that the damage on my rear bumper was a crack, not even a dent. Why would i want to have my car fixed at a spray paint workshop? Aside from that, my workshop also told him that my reverse sensor needed to be fixed, as well as a replacement of the re-enforcement bar, which was dented.

All these to be rectified at a spray paint workshop? Who was he trying to kid? Just by reading through the lines it clearly shows that he wanted the cheapest alternative out of the whole incident. And as a victim of an accident that was caused by a unlicensed driver (if i may add and remind again), why should i short-change myself on the repair cost? I am not trying to get the most out of it, the quote was given by my workshop and my workshop even told them that an invoice would be issued. K* challenged the fact that anyone could issue an invoice and felt that i had something to gain by going back to my preferred workshop to repair my car.

Right now, i believe even an imbecile person can understand what is going on :

1. They want to save as much money as they can. 

2. They are questioning the integrity of my workshop.

3. They showed zero sincerity in trying to rectify the issue.

A few days went by and my last message to them was an email asking if they have come to a conclusion, which has never been replied till date, by the way. Apparently to them, i am pressuring them for an answer. In this case, shouldn't i get an answer automatically without having to ask for one? Again, sincerity and dignity is being questioned - his brother drove without a license, damaged my vehicle. What position is he in to even bargain? The ball is not in their court, neither do they have any bargaining chip in hand.

And so i decided to take it into the media context, after not getting a reply from either party (driver nor his brother). After reiterating my story to the media, with police reports to support my case, someone claiming to be the driver's brother's girlfriend (in short, K*'s girlfriend) namely Audree Sze gave the media her side of the story. Very unfortunately, the hate comments to her very quickly surfaced. I don't think she has the courage to go through each nasty comments about her. If i were her, i would dig a hole and bury myself inside.

Firstly, she is not even a third party. Not the driver's brother, or even the vehicle owner - who is she and what right does she have to give her side of the story? Secondly, her story has many loopholes, so many she should just hide herself in one.

1. She claimed that i had agreed to settle the matter out of court, but can't show evidence that i said that. 

2. She claimed that my workshop quoted her 3-4k for the repair, but my workshop never issued a proper quotation in black and white. 

3. She claimed that they are more than willing to fix the damages on my vehicle, but she sent the media a screenshot of a message conversation with them not replying my text message. (This one, self-pawn.)

Now i don't think it is wrong for me to assume that this bi-polar woman wrote to the media and just started more controversy for the driver, his brother and the car owner. If she has the ability to make me sound like i am the " real bully" here, why isn't anyone buying her "story"? Good try Audree, i think you need to retake your PSLE and learn some public relation skills before you attempt to smoke another story about me.

Till date, no one (the driver, the car owner nor the driver's brother) had gotten back to me trying to settle the issue. My legal rights are reserved even though i have gotten advice and concern from many of the best lawyers in town.

Funny enough, i was asked this question by a reporter - Will people think i am throwing my weight around since i have a social media advantage and hang around the circle of very influential blogger friends?

My answer is this - This issue wasn't initiated on a social media context in the first place. The point i was trying to put across was that driving without a license in Singapore should be taken seriously. The media article was never to defame anyone or with the intention to name drop anyone. I may have a social media advantage but it never crossed my mind to use it because it is ethically not right. As for my friends, they have been extremely supportive about this incident and have offered help. If Singaporeans want to blow up this issue and make it a talking point, it is ultimately out of my control. My social media platforms are used as a sharing point to influence others positively.

I have since fixed my car, but instead of replacing the entire rear bumper (which costs quite a sum), i've fixed the crack and also replaced the reverse sensor. It took me almost 3 weeks (with the help of my friends who work in the automobile industry) to source for reputable workshops to do the repairs and the repair cost was brought to the minimal, bearing in mind that the unlicensed driver is only 20 and still a student.

Our most recent conversation with K* (driver's brother) was at 8.40pm on 12 February 2014. This man had claimed to be handling all matters with regards to the incident and our tele-conversation was about the compensation of my car servicing costs. We have kindly understood from his point of view the entire incident, and here are some of the major and flawed argument that he had brought up:

1. He mentioned how i had contorted his words and made up the story on STOMP. While i like to say that people on STOMP can be quite unethical, it was one of the ways for the community to take sides and formulate a localized justice for the innocent to seek a form of social redress - me, in this case.

2. He refused to pay up the sum of $445 upon request, saying that it is essential for me to "learn a lesson from this" that i had gone overboard with the incident. My point across is simple - if this issue had been resolved; if replies were forthcoming and compensation was sincere, why would this happen? We often question about the effects but let us take a closer look at the causes and be reminded what had instigated this incident.

3. He agreed to pay upon one condition that i apologize for everything. He had declined a two-way apology offer because he had insisted that he is not in the wrong. While the concept of right and wrong can overlap and lines can be blurred, the very instigation of the incident is one of an unlicensed driver - the very basis of the argument is already shaky so why should i apologize? Should i apologize and get nothing (except money) in return and swallow my pride for $445? Why should i?

And the main lead in this whole incident is of course, Chia Chin Herng (guy in red pullover in the second pic, guy in shades in the third pic). I couldn't find a picture of him alone, hence the shot of his identity card (which i kindly censored out his very personal particulars). Apparently he studies Aeronautical Engineering at Singapore Polytechnic. As much as i hate to see a 20 year old kid going through so much shit, he probably knows that he himself deserves it.

To conclude this, some of you may ask why i decided to write this post with names and pictures. The reason is simple - we both couldn't reach a mutual agreement on how the matter should be amicably resolved. The breaking points was when Audree Sze told the media her side of the story (couldn't stop giggling as i read the comments people made about her) and tried to portray an image of me extorting money out of the unlicensed driver, and also when K* requested for me to apologize for my rightful compensation.

I guess the main take-away from this post is that one should man up and take responsibility when one has done wrong. From all the tele-conversations, i get a very strong sense from the passive-aggressive brother K* that he is trying to push all the blame back to me while using my social media tactics to be his basis of argument. I feel that he had missed the valuable point that his dearest brother, Chin Herng, had driven without a license and damaged someone else's property, then shunned away from all the necessary responsibilities. I believe at the age of 20, Chin Herng should possess the maturity and sensibility to handle all these with financial assistance from his brother (who drives a BMW, if i may emphasize) or his family. It is certain they need to "learn a lesson from this" more than i do.

They say what goes around comes around, so they should have seen this coming.

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