German gets 10 days’ jail in Singapore

A German executive in Singapore got 10 days’ jail as punishment for punching a taxi driver. The District judge termed the incident and conduct of the German ‘ nothing short of deplorable”.

According to reports, head of T-Systems Singapore’s Asia Pacific business operations Michael Fritsch who was in an inebriated state had a scuffle with a taxi driver on Kim Seng Road. He forcibly entered the cab and insisted on carrying him to the destination though the cab driver had earlier agreed to ferry a couple. The German got angry and punched the cab driver.

The incident took place inside driver Low Chong Peng’s cab along Kim Seng Road at 0433 hours on May 17, 2015.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Teo Lu Jia said, "Fritsch and his friend had had many glasses of beer with a friend by the time they left Zouk around 0400 hours. Along Kim Seng Road, a couple approached Low’s cab at a queue for passengers. But before they could board it, Fritsch entered the car while his 41-year-old friend stood outside.

Fritsch insisted on taking him to Balestier road but the driver refused and told him to get out of the car as he would ferry the couple.

 “The accused then replied that the victim should fetch him as he pays  40,000 dollas in taxes to the Singapore government every year and he should, therefore, have the first priority,” said DPP Teo.

Low then turned around to inform Fritsch that he was calling the police, at which point Fritsch punched him before alighting. Fritsch was arrested five days later.

Judge Lim Tse Haw observed that the German executive used his high income to try and justify his act of offering the taxi driver double what he earned. “When the taxi driver refused to do so, you sat in the taxi. You refused to get out.”

“I am of the view that the starting point for such a case is an imprisonment term of four weeks, but I am bringing down the prison term. I hope you have learnt your lesson in this incident and never ever to resort to violence against anyone, let alone a public transport worker. I am of the view that the custodial threshold has been crossed,” affirmed Judge Lim.

He sentenced Fritsch to 10 days’ jail for punching the cab driver, leaving him with a swelling on his forehead.

Last month, Fritsch paid Low S$1,675 in compensation and handed over a letter of apology. The maximum punishment for causing hurt is two years’ jail and a S$5,000 fine.