If there’s one thing to love about the internet and the virality of information, it’s that offences can be caught on cameras and justice can be exacted quickly.
For the readers who might be unaware, at around 6:30am yesterday (11 Jan), a Bentley driver was denied entrance into Red Swastika School by a security officer because he had skipped the queue and gone against the flow of the traffic.
A brief argument then ensued, which led to the driver and passenger in the co-pilot seat getting back into the Bentley, before the driver tried to force his way into the school by moving up twice, injuring the security officer in the process.
Finer Details Leading Up to the Incident
Given how much attention and outrage the incident has received and caused, more details regarding the proceedings and aftermath were quick to surface.
According to an interview conducted by Shin Min News, Du Zhi Yuan, a 42-year-old finance manager, had witnessed the scene as he was in the middle of sending his son to school during the incident.
From his perspective, the leftmost lane was lined up with cars waiting to enter the school when he suddenly saw a white Bentley coming from the right lane reversing and turning towards the school’s main entrance.
In order to control the human traffic, Red Swastika School only allows the parents of Primary One Students with special parking permits to enter the school through the main entrance, while the other parents have to use the side gate to fetch or send their children.
After the Bentley was stopped by the security officer, the driver still tried to enter the school numerous times, and a teacher had to come forward to persuade him otherwise after hearing the commotion.
Both sides had been unwilling to relent for 10 minutes, and it was only when the gates were about to close that the teacher allowed the Bentley to drive into the school.
Close-Up Video of the Argument
Apparently, the video posted on ROADS.sg by Stomper Lenny—who said that he was just posting it on behalf of the person who took it—was not the only camera that recorded the incident.
The following video posted by Beh Chia Lor – Singapore Road is a close-up of the argument that happened at the school gates.
While the audio of the video is noisy and somewhat unclear, we tried our best to make sense of it.
Driver: Look at the behind, behind got queue? I know…. I first time come, I first time.
Security: There is no excuse, you take a certain way… you, please, turn off— [gestures to left lane then towards the open road]
Driver: That’s why I said you don’t know how to control the traffic, right, that’s why I come by second lane because here got two white lines mah.
Someone behind: Oi, mai sia suay lah (don’t cause an embarrassment or disgrace in Hokkien) Queue up lah, come on man. You’re parents.
Security: This is for coming out, but then you want to come in.
Driver: Sorry, for taking your time (?), can I go in?
Judging from the 38-second video alone, it’s evident that the driver was well-aware that he was violating the traffic rules. He also tried to gain access by giving the excuse that this was the first time he was entering Red Swastika School, but the security officer refused to make an exception for him.
The Arrest of the Driver
The Bentley driver in question is a 62-year-old Singaporean-Chinese man who has been arrested for rash act of harming the security officer.
Reportedly, he is the grandfather of one of Red Swastika School’s students, and there were three people in the car during the incident.
The police had been alerted of this incident at 11:40am, five hours after it occurred.
Oddity in the Numbers
Apart from the charge of deliberately injuring the security officer, there seems to be more to the case than one might expect.
Upon running the Bentley’s car plate through the OneMotoring system, there was a realisation that the Bentley’s registration information was non-existent.
When inquired about the oddity by Shin Min News, LTA said that they would cooperate with the police on this case.
The Identity of the Security Officer
The security officer is a 61-year-old man by the name of Neo Ah Hwatt, though his colleagues usually call him “Brother Ah Hwatt”.
He has been working at Red Swastika School for three years, hired under the security firm Reachfield Security and Safety Management.
According to Madam May Tan in AsiaOne, a mother of a Primary Five student, she describes Neo as a “jovial and friendly man” who would greet them every day by saying “Good Morning” and “Thank You’”
After the incident, Neo had to visit a clinic for the minor knee injury he sustained.
Currently, he is on a three-day medical leave and recovering at home.
Surprisingly, this incident also garnered the responses of many well-known and influential figures.
Education Minister’s Chan Chun Sing’s Response
Among the influential figures of Singapore, the first to come out and speak about the incident was Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.
Chan immediately condemned the driver, stating that his behaviour was unacceptable, especially towards security officers who are vital in their role of keeping the roads, schools, and children safe.
Afterwards, he edited his post, declaring that the Singapore Police Force has taken action, keeping to his promise that the authorities will look into the case and not hesitate to make a police report if it was warranted.
Union of Security Employees’ Police Report
Following closely behind the Education Minister was the Union of Security Employees (USE), a nation organisation that represents and protects all persons employed in the security and security related services.
USE has filed a report against the driver upon learning of the incident at noon on Tuesday (11 Jan).
The Union’s General Secretary Raymond Chin stated that they had filed a report because they felt that it was wrong for the driver to treat the security officer in such a manner.
The union is also disturbed by the case of physical abuse, finding the incident particularly appalling since the driver had intentionally driven against the flow of traffic and completely disregarded the security officer as he drove into him, just to get into the school.
They have also visited Neo Ah Hwatt in the afternoon after the incident, providing him relief vouchers and nourishments like chicken essence and bird’s nest, while promising to help him in whatever capacity necessary.
Security Association of Singapore’s Denunciation
Besides the Union of Security Employees, the Security Association of Singapore called the driver’s behaviour “utterly deplorable.”
The Association’s President Raj Joshua Thomas asserted that “the security officers’ duties include ensuring that only authorised persons and vehicles enter the premises they are protecting and in an orderly manner. Members of the public should cooperate with them.
“It is completely unacceptable for members of the public to try to get their way by bullying, intimidating, causing physical harm to or in any other way harassing officers while they are performing their duties.”
More Notable Responses
The Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan commended Neo for showing dedication to his duty, even going as far as standing in front of the moving vehicle to ensure the safety of the school premises.
He continues by declaring that abusive behaviour towards security officers “should not be tolerated” because of the important role they play, and it is necessary to insure that they are protected and have a safe environment to carry out their duties.
National Trades Union Congress Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng has also echoed similar sentiments, positing that aggressions against security officers for doing their due diligence is unacceptable.
The Ubiquity of Such Cases
Unfortunately, Mr Neo Ah Hwatt is not a singular case of an elderly security officer facing abuse when carrying out his duties.
According to a survey conducted by USE, two in five in 1,000 security officers have experienced physical and/or verbal abuse.
About 40% of the cases concerning reported abuse are done by members of the public to elder security officers.
To which we have to ask, why is this happening?
Aren’t we supposed to respect the elderly instead of mistreating them? Or do we simply see them as the weaker party that can be easily trodden over to get our way?
There is an argument about age-ism that needs to be made, but that is not the contention of this article.
In light of these statistics, the Private Security Industry Act had been amended last year to better protect the security officers by introducing heavier penalties to those who abuse security officers on duty.
Therefore, it is more than likely that the Bentley driver will be meted out the penalties he deserved for such an irresponsible and callous attitude.
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Featured Image: Facebook (Beh Chia Lor – Singapore Road)