Following the recent ban of e-scooters on footpaths in Singapore, about 30 affected personal mobility device (PMD) riders paid a visit to Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam at his Meet-the-People session (MPS) to vent their frustration over the ban.
Writing in a Facebook post on Wednesday (6 November), Mr Shanmugam – who is an MP for Nee Soon GRC – said that he spoke with the riders at his MPS in Yishun.
“About 30 PMD riders came to see me at my Meet-the-People Session. I met three of them in my Branch office. I then asked to meet the others as well, since they had all come. I met them in an open area outside my Branch. As it was an open area, I told them to come closer around me so that we can hear each other better,” he wrote.
While speaking to them, the Minister said that he understands their situation and will raise their concerns to the Ministry of Transport and the Cabinet.
“I explained the reasons for the move on PMDs. They explained their position, their difficulties. I said we understood their position, but I would also convey their views to MOT, and to Cabinet. The riders were appreciative. It was a good, civil meeting,” he said.
He added, “I also told them that I will call for another meeting.”
Since 5 November, e-scooters were no longer allowed to be ridden on footpaths in the country, and those found guilty of the crime can be fined up to S$2,000 and jail time of up to three months once the ban is strictly enforced from 2020.
Although e-scooters are banned from being used on roads and footpaths, it will still be allowed on cycling paths and Park Connector Networks (PCNs).
From now till 31 December 2019, there will be an advisory period where offenders will be given warnings, in order to give time for e-scooter riders to adjust to the changes.
“From 1 January 2020, a zero-tolerance approach will be taken and those caught riding an e-scooter on footpaths will face regulatory action. Offenders are liable for fines up to S$2,000 and/or face imprisonment of up to 3 months, if convicted,” the Land Transport Authority (LTA) warned.
However, bicycles and Personal Mobility Aids (PMAs) like motorised wheelchairs will not be subjected to the footpaths ban, and will also be allowed on all cycling paths and PCNs.
Mr Shanmugam also highlighted in his post that an individual named Edmund Loke was standing behind the group of riders and taking pictures of the meeting, which he later posted on Facebook and then took it down.
“At the session, we noticed that someone was standing behind the group and taking photos, not sure if he was also recording. We knew who he was – Edmund Loke. It later came to our attention that he had posted the photo on FB, and then took it down,” he explained.
He continued, “He had previously posted an online petition calling for a ban on PMDs. He didn’t seem to be part of the PMD group, but seems to have intended to convey an impression of the meeting which is quite inaccurate – that in some way I was ambushed by the PMD riders, and they surrounded me.”
As such, Mr Shanmugam called Loke’s act as “both sneaky and unnecessary”, adding “we know he is a supporter of a political party”.
Another netizen that goes by the name Dennis Yong uploaded images of the MPS session with the Law Minister on his Facebook page. It appears that a number of the riders who met up with the Minister are workers of GrabFood.
Separately, about 50 e-scooters riders also gathered at a MPS session in Ang Mo Kio yesterday (6 November) in the hope to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong so that they can express their concerns over the ban, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported.
Many of them were seen adorning green GrabFood delivery uniforms, and some of them arrived at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 as early as 6pm, even though the session was only scheduled to start at 8pm.
Although they didn’t get to speak to PM Lee, a representative from the group of riders managed to speak to an MPS volunteers, while other riders talked to ward grassroots adviser Dr S Vasoo.