By Terry Xu
A video depicting a disturbing scene at the Woodlands Bus interchange is now viral where a man was filmed verbally insulting commuters at the interchange and spitting at a lady. It was posted as a video on Facebook by a person by the name of Sia Jianhe.
He wrote in the video description,
The lady in blue was queuing up waiting for 950 to go back home. This singaporean suddenly cuts her queue, she asked him to queue up behind. He claims that he was in the queue just now. But he went off to buy a drink at the shop nearby and came back. He claims that he is in the queue, nobody saw him.
Bus came. All in the queue went up the bus, this guy spitted on the blue lady multiple times before he went up too, everyone complaints. He pushed the blue lady down the bus and spitted saliva on her face multiple times.. (estimated +- 10x) , she went to call the control room personnel to scene. This guys hogs the bus refusing to alight, blaming the driver for not moving because he is waiting for him to alight or police to come. (Meanwhile control room sends for a second bus, now 2-3 SMRT staff + driver at scene but did nothing). He still insist its the drivers fault. A lot of ppl screamed and scolded him for being inconsiderate (old man in bus almost got punched for scolding him, many others shouted at him for delaying bus departure). He fought back verbally with the whole bus of passengers, pushed his way into 25% from the front of the bus then squeezed his way roughly out again. (Second bus came, back door opens, ppl alights, he rushed to the back door stopping ppl from coming down but failed because a lot of guys pushed him aside. This green lady was unlucky, got stopped by him. He said she scolded him in the bus just now and there is none of her business why she KPO.)
He then grabs her by the hand, refusing to let her board the second bus, then spit saliva multiple times on her face. Pushed her from the front. She shouted molest. Molest. Molest. He denied. He spitted saliva at her face multiple times (estimate 10++) again.. He tried to run to board the second bus, but those ppl pushed him out.. haha. lucky he didn’t escape, if not police come also cannot catch this guy. (My video started recording).
I stopped recording when my bus came.
In my opinion, the SMRT staff on ground should have known better what to do about this man apart than just standing by and waiting for something to happen. The man was spitting at the lady right in front of their eyes! Were they waiting for him to board the bus or just walk off?
What if he was in fact showing early signs of being aggressive, and he had a knife in his possession? Could they have reacted in time to subdue him? Even if he did not do anything drastic at the interchange, what if he did something very wrong else where? None of their business?
The general public would have assumed that by having an ex-general as the SMRT’s CEO, there will be directives passed down for the staff to be ready for exceptional situations like this incident.
So why not call the police? After all his behavior should fall under section 268 of the Singapore Penal Code.
268. A person is guilty of a public nuisance, who does any act, or is guilty of an illegal omission, which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public, or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right.
And that brings us to a question of where are the friendly neighborhood police force, the guardian of the citizens when you need them? Oh yes, how could I have forgotten… They close at 10pm. You would have to call them up at the Headquarters to ask for a dispatch while you fend off any problems you have.
Moving forward with this incident, I must confess that I would have not known what to do myself if I were in the same situation. Not to mention if I am supposed to be returning home or going somewhere else to meet someone. “How long will I be involved in this?” “What if the police come and ask me to assist in investigations?”
Its easy to say that I will be gladly to help out but on the ground, its a split second decision between “yes” and “no” and circumstances such as the one shown in the video is not so life threatening enough for me to forgo personal interest for the sake of the greater good. Furthermore what if you were not certain of what resulted in this incident?
So what can a normal concerned citizen do in a situation like this without being legally liable? That is definitely a question in everyone’s mind when they want to walk in and confront a person like the man in the video.
I must say I would be fine if it comes down to a physical confrontation if he becomes violent first but what if he remains as he is? Spitting all the way at everyone who confronts him? Talking sense to him obviously is out of the question, neither is it by spitting back at him.
The public needs an answer on this as this incident is not the first and neither will it be the last.
A first world country needs a population which know how to handle situations themselves and not be lost for words or actions in time of need. We all can try and learn but someone needs to tell us what should be done and can be done. So it would be good if the Singapore police force could give some guidance from their professional point of view.
Do share with us on what you would have done if you faced such a situation yourself.
SMRT has released a media statement on their facebook account, it writes:
[Media Statement] We note the incident that occurred at Woodlands Interchange at 930pm on 22 October.
SMRT staff alerted the police at the onset of the incident. While waiting for the authorities to arrive, our security staff made a judgement call to intervene and to guide the aggressor away.
The incident is currently under police investigation, and we would like to remind commuters to remain gracious and polite while in queue.
We would like to remind all passengers to be courteous, and that inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated and will be reported.
The police according to the Straits Times report, said that they have attended to the case and is under investigation. A question to be asked on this statement is whether an official police report filed with this? Or is it just a routine investigation?