Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Monday January 14th 2019

Ex-offender lost his Grab driver job after LTA didn’t renew vocational license

The HDB block seems desolate as I took the cranky slow lift up to visit Michael – a 46-year-old single father and currently jobless who has recently written in seeking assistance. He has a adopted daughter but together with his ex-wife they are now living in the US.

The whole HDB floor looks like a forgotten ghost town and I only realised later that he is the only occupant there as the residents have mostly vacated to another rental block nearby. I am glad that I didn’t visit him during the evening period when things will be much more eerie and darkened.

Michael lives alone now as his flat partner has passed away leaving the whole 25 sq m one-room flat to himself. The house is tastefully done up with simple plywood petition to separate the room from the living space. The floor is undone though and is covered only with patchy cement but overall it is a livable space.

There are signs of decent habitation in the household as a 20-inch old TV set, fridge and washing machine fill up the living space. A small fan blew in my face amidst the dense humid atmosphere with rain threatening in the background outside.

Michael seems younger than his age and he told me that he has just left the prison a few months ago for a white-collared crime. He was jailed 6 months for the offence but didn’t specify what the crime was and I didn’t want to press.

He was driving Grab for a while after his release and doing well till LTA didn’t renew his vocational license  recently because of the jail sentence. His only means of earning a proper income was dashed with that second sentencing by LTA even though he has served his jail term.

“The yellow ribbon project seems like a joke now,” he confided in me. “I have served my time and now I am given a second sentencing when LTA didn’t renew my driving license.”

Many people have returned to crime when they couldn’t find any suitable job and there is the solace that at least once they are back in prison they have proper food and shelter but that is not what we want for rehabilitation. Without a proper job, many offenders recommit and those who have families find it difficult to face their wife and kids if they continue to laze around at home long after release.

A 2005 survey by the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises found that while 34 per cent of companies were willing to hire former convicts, only 4 per cent actually did. Many could only manage with very manual work such as moving home, cleaning or drivers.

However, if we look at the recent hike in crime rate among Grab or Uber drivers, there must be a plausible reason for LTA to be so strict when it comes to getting the right drivers to send/pick up innocent passengers who will in all likelihood trust the transport companies to do their due diligence.

“They should give those with less severe crimes a chance to integrate back to society. Ok its fair to penalise those who are rapists, robbers or molesters but white-collared crimes like mine should not be lumped together with the rest when it comes to getting a proper job here,” Michael retorted.

I tend to agree with him as he spoke nervously to me about his grievances as his cash saving is dipping to a very desperate low level and he even has to eat maggi noodles lately to survive. His Pay U power meter is also at a precarious level of only $1 and a top-up is urgently needed.

His water is down to a trickle as there is not much cash left to pay for the SP bill and this has being going on for the past few months.

He told me to destress he took to jogging round the neighbourhood and felt better after sweating it out. I encouraged him to do it regularly as I myself has jog often for the past 30 years as sometimes in life when it rains it may pour.

I left Michael after an hour of visitation and gave him a small amount of cash so that at least he can top up his Pay U. It will be a shame if he has to live alone in that whole floor in the dark all by himself.

As for us, we need to view ex-offenders with a new pair of lens if they can integrate successfully back with our society.

He has committed a crime, paid for it in prison but let us not re-sentence him again after his release…that will be a severe debilitating blow to all ex-offenders.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

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5 Responses to “Ex-offender lost his Grab driver job after LTA didn’t renew vocational license”

  1. J Y says:

    You can try to apply to 18 Chef. They hire many ex-offenders for their restaurants under the yellow ribbon project. Even the boss is an ex-drug addict himself. He has turned over a new leaf and helping others like himself. I know of his story from CNA some years back and I think he is expanding his business. Maybe you cannot handle cash, but can be trained in other areas like cooking and serving customers etc.

  2. Kkk says:

    I believed LTA does have their criteria to follow.
    There are still alot of delivery driver jobs available if you willing to do.
    Totally disagree as driving Uber or Grab is the only job in Singapore.

  3. Zelene says:

    Can appeal to LTA? Government should walk the talk. If they are supportive of yellow ribbon project then they shouldn’t be doing this! Any suggestions? We can petition to highlight the case? We should all help to build an Inclusive society. Government should take the lead!

    • Syed says:

      Criteria my foot.Whenever these ppl go for an interview they had to be honest abt it. But when honest, no one want to hire.Yellow Ribbon are the for a front line only pretend to help but in fact they do absolutely nothing.I am ex con. I know how it feels. The only way is to lie in the interview. That’s the truth.

  4. SG says:

    I am supportive of LTA move. Have you seen the rape cases in singapore?
    Singapore sex offense is not low. Alot female take grab and uber, if there are rules set for taxi, the equal is expected from grab and uber.
    Just like sex offender cannot be teacher.
    I might sound agitated cause it seem like the article implying lta is wrong. They are not! Protect mass population, or give another chance? The best is the balance of both, so? Like some said, delivery work are widely available. Dont be choosy, there will always be job. If you are choosy and try blame it on others then..
    Yellow ribbon is to help ex offender to reintegrate to society, does not mean their offence is off record.

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