Maserati driver in Singapore jailed for hurling religious insults at off-duty traffic cop at petrol station

Walter Goh Chong Han, 43, outside the State Courts on November 27, 2020. — TODAY pic
Walter Goh Chong Han, 43, outside the State Courts on November 27, 2020. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Nov 28 — Upset that he could not move past another motorist while queueing at a petrol station, Walter Goh Chong Han got out of the green Maserati he was driving and yelled offensive phrases at the other driver.

The other man and his family were out for Hari Raya Puasa festivities and wearing their traditional Malay outfits.

During their verbal altercation, Goh shouted “Raya babi” at him — the latter word meaning “pig” in Malay.

The victim turned out to be an off-duty traffic police officer.

Yesterday, Goh, 43, who was not represented by a lawyer, was jailed seven days for his actions.

He had pleaded guilty the day before to one charge each of causing harassment and uttering words with deliberate intent to wound someone’s religious or racial feelings.

What happened

The court heard that the incident happened on June 6 last year.

The 51-year-old victim — who was not named in court documents — and his three children, aged between 12 and 17, had just left their home to do some visitations during the Hari Raya Puasa celebrations.

He went to the SPC petrol station along 100 Punggol Central to refuel his car, stopping behind another car to wait as all the pump lots were full.

Around 3.20pm, Goh turned into the petrol station and stopped his car at the right rear of the victim’s. The Maserati he was driving belonged to his mother.

Shortly afterwards, the victim heard Goh sounding his horn. He ignored Goh.

Unable to overtake the other man’s car from the right, Goh reversed and drove to the other side.

Goh then stopped next to the victim’s car and got out of his own, hitting the side of the other car while opening his own car door, which caused a dent.

The two got into a verbal argument and Goh uttered the words “Raya babi” at the other man, who understood it to mean “pig that celebrates the new year”.

Offended by this, the victim began exchanging vulgarities with Goh.

The victim’s 16-year-old daughter, who was sitting in the right rear seat of her father’s car, soon took out her mobile phone to record the dispute.

The video clips she took were played in court. At one point, Goh told the victim: “You’re a police officer, ah, bro? Very good!”

He shouted more vulgar phrases in a mix of English and Hokkien, such as “police officer big f***, uh?”, and also spat on the floor in the direction of the victim’s car.

The other man then told his son to call the police but Goh drove off before police officers could arrive.

Road rage

On Thursday, while seeking a seven-day jail term, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lim Ying Min described it as a case of road rage, saying Goh used the phrase to provoke the victim and it was “extremely offensive”.

She added: “Despite knowing that his words were offensive, the accused did not stop. Instead, he continued to utter ‘babi’ at the complainant and his family.”

When it was Goh’s turn to give his mitigation plea, District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam referred to his letter that stated: “We started to argue and we both started to exchange profanities.”

Goh explained that both him and the victim had “exchanged plenty of vulgarities” and claimed that there was no car in front of the other man’s car.

“I sounded my horn many times and he refused to move. I was not having my petrol pumped, I just needed to (pump) my tyres. I sounded it for at least two to three minutes. The pump attendants asked him to move but he just refused to move,” Goh alleged.

DPP Lim responded that his claims were not borne out by investigations, so District Judge Ng adjourned sentencing to resolve the dispute.

Yesterday, the prosecution submitted footage from Goh’s in-car camera, which was played in court.

The footage showed that no pump assistants had approached the victim’s car or waved for him to move forward.

DPP Lim argued that Goh had fabricated his claims to mislead the court and this clearly showed his lack of remorse.

Goh told the court that he had nothing else to say. “I’m so sorry and I promise I will never ever do such a thing again in my life,” he added.

During sentencing, District Judge Ng noted that he was punishing Goh only for the offences for which he was charged. “I’ve viewed the video clips. I make no comment on the action or conduct of the complainant and his children because those were not brought before me,” the judge added.

For harassment, Goh could have been jailed for up to six months or fined up to S$5,000 (RM15,200), or both.

For wounding religious or racial feelings, he could have been jailed for up to three years or fined, or both. — TODAY

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