How did LTA manage to tai-chi away the blame?

TODAY, 27 March 2008

Paralysed cyclist gets $800k

MORE than two years after he was left paralysed from the neck down after crashing into a metal barrier at an overhead bridge in Tampines, a cyclist has finally been awarded nearly $800,000 in compensation.

Mr Koh Liep Hang, 43, had earlier sued the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and barrier contractor Koh Brothers for negligence, resulting in his injury and wanted about $1 million in compensation.

Last August, Mr Koh dropped the lawsuit against the LTA, and agreed to bear 35 per cent of the responsibility for the July 2005 accident, with Koh Brothers bearing 65 per cent, reported Lianhe Zaobao yesterday.

In an earlier Today report, the LTA had been quoted as saying that the contractor did not follow proper procedures when installing those barriers.

Mr Koh, a father of two young children, told the Chinese newspaper that it had been depressing period for his family. While he is able to lift his hands, communicate and eat normally, his fingers and legs have no strength.

When contacted, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, Mr Ong Kian Min, told Today that he was happy that the parties “have come to an amicable settlement”. The “unfortunate incident” serves as a lesson that such barriers have to be carefully designed so that they will not harm the public.

I was surprised to read that the plaintiff dropped his suit against LTA and that LTA managed to tai-chi (push) away the responsibility to the contractor that they engaged to erect the barrier. LTA said that the contractor “did not follow proper procedures” when installing those barriers. I believe the LTA has blamed the contractor for not erecting the barriers on both ends of the bridge at the same time.

Tampines MP Ong Kian Min, himself a lawyer, said that the barrier was not “carefully designed”. Back in July 2005 when the incident happened, Ong called it “
stupidest device I’ve ever seen”. He described the design as “very poor and dangerous”.

So who designed it? LTA or the contractor?

While the contractor may be partially at fault for incorrect installation procedure, it doesn’t absolve LTA completely, does it?

Ong Kian Min had said previously, “I’m insisting the LTA change the design. They should be held responsible.

So why was the lawsuit withdrawn? Was the victim’s lawyer not doing his job or did the victim get pressured to drop an embarrassing lawsuit?


Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

8 thoughts on “How did LTA manage to tai-chi away the blame?”

  1. Dear Gerald,

    Perhaps the question that the lawyers should have asked was, “Would LTA have paid the contractor if they had not given the green light to the completion of the installation of the barriers?”

    It is common knowledge that upon completetion of a job, a delivery of a product or the performance of a service, the customer will then make the payment for it. In this case, given that the barrier was already installed, obviously LTA had review the design of the barrier, inspected the barrier installed, tested the work done by the contractor and agree that it was according to their satisfaction before agreeing to pay the contractor.

    As such based on the above argument, should not LTA had borne partially the responsibility for the accident?

    Given the fact that the contractor was probably engaged for various LTA’s project. Could the fear of being blacklisted had allowed it to “bei hei guo” for the prospect of future contracts?

    I had read the report this morning on the papers and had wanted to highlight it. Obviously the press had felt that the compensation of $800,000 is more eye-catching and newsworthy than the fact that the victim had dropped his suit against LTA and no reason was given for it.

    Is this another pattern where unsavoury news on authorities are hidden amidst the eye-catching headline.

    To be fair, lets just say that the above theory are merely wild guess.


  2. You’re right. The $800,000 figure certainly caught my eye. But I was shocked to read that LTA paid none of that.

  3. I remember hearing someone said that you can’t sue them. They will always find a way to “tai-chi” away the blame.

  4. my personal view is that the contractor allow the taichi to be placed upon them in view of more future contract with LTA…. again my guess only

    If I am LTA, likely I will blacklist the company from future contracts if they refuse to take the rap.

    Like I said earlier..above point is just a hypothesis.


  5. I am amazed that it was only $800,000. This seems a pittance for someone who now has to live the rest of their lives partially paralysed.

  6. Read your ‘Important Notice’ on the right. A blog is always personal unless you declare otherwise, so no need to ‘repeat’ that.

    As for the LTA thing…

    I suppose somebody should interview the injured for more details.

  7. the govt is always in a more powerful position. apparently this issue wasn’t really blown up so i guess LTA was hoping for it to blow over quickly.

    the govt agency who approved the design or at the very least the govt personnel who approved the design should bear some responsibility.

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