Tada Driver’s Racial Remarks and Height Rule Dispute Ignite Controversy Online

Have you heard about the 1.35m rule that’s been making waves online?

If not, you will after this story.

Another incident involving this rule has surfaced, and due to a series of events, including racist remarks from a private-hire driver, it has gone viral.

Here’s a rundown of the latest videos circulating on TikTok.

Tada Driver Accused of Racism, Caught on Camera Saying, “You are Indian, I am Chinese!”

On 24 September 2024, two videos gained significant attention:

Initially shared by the rider on Facebook, these videos were either removed or set to private. However, they continue to circulate on TikTok.

The video begins with the driver animatedly insisting that the rider’s daughter was too short to ride without a car seat, referencing the legal height limit of 1.35 metres.

Janelle Hoeden, the 46-year-old rider, clarified that her daughter is 1.37 metres tall and nine years old.

One would assume that would end the dispute. But it didn’t.

The driver persisted with his claim. Hoeden responded with, “Okay, complain.”

To which the driver retorted, “Complain is good because you are very illegal!” which led to Hoeden laughing.

When Hoeden inquired about her supposed “illegality,” the driver vaguely mentioned her giving wrong directions, a detail not shown in the video (but mentioned in the second video).

In a dramatic turn, the driver exclaimed, “Don’t hao lian,” which translates from Hokkien as “don’t be boastful.” When Hoeden clarified in Mandarin that she wasn’t boasting, the driver’s temper flared, saying, “You are Indian, I’m Chinese!” twice.

He then added, “You are the very worst customer!”

Hoeden corrected him, identifying herself as “Singaporean Eurasian” and informed him of her intent to share the incident on Facebook, emphasizing his racial comments.

But the driver continued, “I know you’re Indian. I’m Chinese. You’re trying to be funny with me.”

In a subsequent video, the scene shifts to a block of flats near an HDB rubbish chute. The driver stops the car abruptly and steps out.

Hoeden tells her daughter to record the unfolding events. The driver, not to be outdone, also starts recording, pointing his phone at Hoeden as if challenging her.

It later becomes clear that he wanted Hoeden to retrieve her belongings from the car boot herself. The driver then aims his camera at her child. Throughout this standoff, he repeatedly claims that Hoeden gave him “wrong information.”

Hoeden, on the other hand, audibly states his car’s license plate number, and spoke about the “racist” comments.

On Facebook, Hoeden had written, “Racist drivers like this [should] be reprimanded and shamed!”

Rider’s Account of What Happened

According to The Straits Times, the incident occurred around 2 pm on 23 September 2023, a Saturday.

The 46-year-old telemarketer booked a ride from Tada from Pasir Ris Drive 6 to Pasir Ris Street 12, where her sister-in-law had recently moved. Accompanying her was her nine-year-old daughter, and they carried cushions and bedding as gifts.

The journey began uneventfully. The driver even courteously offered to help with the bags, but Hoeden assured him she could handle them.

As they drove, Hoeden and her daughter chatted warmly.

However, the mood shifted when they encountered a roadblock due to MRT line construction.

The driver became agitated, accusing Hoeden of providing the wrong address and misleading directions. He then allegedly said, “You are Indian, you are stupid,” a remark not captured on video as it was made before recording began.

Hoeden then began recording, suspecting the driver was trying to build a case against her by referencing the 1.35m rule.

She was familiar with the height restrictions for private-hire vehicle passengers.

Tada has since responded, saying that they are aware of the incident, adding, “Remarks or comments that insinuate racial differences are in direct violation of Tada community guidelines and are not representative of our company’s values.

“We have initiated an internal investigation to fully understand the circumstances and will take all necessary actions based on our findings.”

Since 1 January 2012, age no longer determines the need for child restraints or booster seats.

Instead, individuals shorter than 1.35m must use a suitable child restraint or booster seat with a seat belt, or an adjustable seat belt. Those 1.35m or taller must wear a seat belt, irrespective of age.

Taxis, being hailed spontaneously, aren’t bound by this rule, as it’s impractical to always have booster seats or to refuse passengers with children.

Conversely, private-hire cars, which are pre-booked, allow passengers to request booster seats or child restraints in advance. If a rider provides one, the private-hire driver can transport them. Otherwise, specific bookings (e.g., GrabFamily for Grab) cater to children.

The controversy around drivers transporting children shorter than 1.35m gained traction last month when a PHV driver confronted another for transporting a child likely under the height limit last month.

You can watch the video here:

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