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Busker at woodlands MRT purportedly harassed by SMRT staff

Yesterday, TOC shared on our facebook about a post by Ms Zarina Jaffar on Mr Suhaime Roa, visually handicap busker and is a father of 4 children.

She wrote that Suhaime is a prolific song writer and singers back in the 80's. For the past few years he has been busking at Causeway Point and Civic centre, Woodlands. It is also written that he has a license from the National Art Council for his busking activities.

The problem highlighted by Zarina is that Suhaime has on several occasions been harassed by a SMRT officer, named Edmund Chong Kong Lum from Woodlands MRT. The officer is said to order Suhaime to move away from the usual place he used to play.

suhaime woodlands

Suhaime would comply at times and if not, the officer would call the police.

She then added that the harassment got so bad that a police report was lodged against the officer but it still continued.

His wife wrote to Zarina, "We've been tolerating this far too much. We did go to MPs to seek advice n help. As a responsible man, Suhaime just want to earn a living by trading his talent for the family. Insyaallah."

In another message, she wrote, "He came again. Demand to see Suhaime's busking license. He want to make report to NAC tomorrow. We refused to give. Told him that he got no right to see as we are not in his ground.
He said he will call the police. We told him to go ahead...". "He call Transcom Policeman. They also agree that it's not MRT ground."

"Just now, he's not happy when Transcom Police refuse to give Suhaime's particulars because the policemen said that Suhaime is not MRT ground. He call NPC. NPC came n told him the same thing. Our friend still not happy:, when the Transcom Policemen refused to give Suhaime's particulars to him, he took down the Policemen's particulars? What was he up to? Is he trying to manipulate with the Police too?

"Even the CWP staff talk to him. He wants to show his power"

Zarina noted that the ground where Suhaime is performing is not under the SMRT premises.

In photo below, Zarina shared how the SMRT officer made life difficult for Suhaime by putting a barrier in front of Suhaime. It is said that this has been going on for 2-3 years by the same person.

smrt busker

In a response to enquries by members of the general public on its facebook fanpage, SMRT has posted a clarification over the incident.

We support buskers at our MRT stations.

At this point, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has allowed busking at 5 designated MRT Stations. These are Raffles Place, City Hall, Jurong East, Eunos and Bukit Batok.

To perform at any of these 5 stations, buskers need to seek approval from both the National Arts Council (NAC) and LTA.

It is unfortunate that Woodlands is not part of the current trial. We hope that it is included soon.

And when that happens, we hope buskers at Woodlands MRT station will apply for licenses from both the NAC and LTA.

We all look forward to making our MRT stations more lively so that our journeys can be made more pleasant.
Thank you.