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TOC photographer hauled to police station by SBS Transit staff

by: Jewel Philemon/

On 17 Aug 2011 at about 9.30am, one of our photographers noticed an accident along Marine Parade Road and started taking pictures of this incident involving two SBS Transit buses (one double-decker and the other a normal one).

A staff of SBS Transit who was with the vehicles that met with the accident, then stopped our photographer from taking any pictures of the accident. And not only that, he insisted that our photographer had committed an offence and compelled him to go to the nearest police station.

A police officer at the police station said that there was no case, but the staff of SBS Transit claimed that he was representing Public Transport Council (PTC) and that our photographer should be detained as he was in breach of an unspecified law pertaining to PTC.

Upon this insistence by the staff of SBS Transit, the police officer took down the name, NRIC and contact details of our contributor, without filing a case.

TOC wrote to the PTC to seek clarification on this and asked if there is any such law prohibiting a member of public from taking pictures of motor vehicle accidents on our public roads; and if the of staff SBS Transit can indeed represent himself as a representative of PTC?

We copied the Singapore Police Force in the same correspondence and asked if a case has been filed against our photographer, and if so what was the offence; and also SBS Transit asking if its staff had acted in an unbecoming manner, how do they intend to resolve the matter?

TOC received a reply on 19 August from SBS Transit saying:

We are horrified to learn that this had happened. This is certainly not something we condone. Our staff did not comply with company guidelines when he stopped Mr XXX from taking photographs and insisted that he accompany him to the Police station. There was also no need for him to identify himself as a Public Transport Official given that there was no fare enforcement action taking place. For these lapses, we are taking disciplinary action against him.

We would like to extend our deepest apologies to Mr XXX for the inconvenience and distress caused.