It is unacceptable for “self-appointed vigilantes” to harangue certain people such as delivery riders and the elderly about wearing face masks, said Singapore People’s Party (SPP) chairman Jose Raymond.
Mr Jose in a Facebook post on Fri (17 Apr) said that taking photos and videos to shame people who aren’t wearing masks, in addition to using “extremely harsh tones and language”, falls on the verge of harassment.
While he does not condone “the irresponsible acts” of those who purposely flout the mask-wearing requirement in public, Mr Jose highlight that seniors in particular “may have issues either with staying in their respective homes, or could also be affected by dementia or other personal issues”.
“What we need to do is help them, and understand why they aren’t wearing a mask, or why they aren’t able to stay home, or why they are loitering about,” he said.
Mr Jose also noted that the said “self-appointed national vigilantes” have also been disturbing some delivery riders who have their meals in designated areas or approved areas.
Such acts should not be encouraged, he stressed, similar to how it is unacceptable for members of the public who abuse safe distancing ambassadors or police officers who are simply doing their jobs.
Mr Jose said that members of the public engaging in such acts should bear in mind that “not everyone is able to keep up with how the policies are being rolled one after one, day after day”.
Further, those who do not don masks in public may not have been able “to pick up their masks” or might not be “aware that there was a mask collection exercise to begin with”, he added.
“Some aren’t even aware that we had changed our policy on face masks,” said Mr Jose, adding that not everyone “has the benefit of access to news information” online or to stay in touch “with their usual coffeeshop kakis to even know what’s the new policy of the day”.
He added that apps such as OneServiceApp which encourage citizens to report other citizens “only turn citizens against each other in times of a crisis”.
“This is incongruous with our values of Social Defence, a pillar of our Total Defence strategy and is an antithesis to #SGUnited,” said Mr Jose.
“If members of the public have a sense of anger at how we are managing this crisis, then direct the unhappiness at the people in charge. Not at your fellow citizens,” he urged.
Shaming and reporting certain people who do not wear masks in public leads to community decay “rather than its cooperation & solidarity”: Singapore politics and history Twitter account @ikansumbat
@ikansumbat, a Twitter account producing commentaries on Singapore politics and history, highlighted several problems with the act of shaming and reporting certain people who do not wear masks in public.
The act of “snitching”, according to @ikansumbat, leads to “the decay of community, rather than its cooperation & solidarity” by instilling fear and mass suspicion among its members.
Such acts also often disproportionately affect disempowered communities in Singapore, such as racial minorities, working-class persons of all races, and even migrants — particularly “brown” migrants such as those of South Asian descent, said @ikansumbat.
13/ And since the PAP government has shamefully pushed a “two separate infections” narrative, we must prepare ourselves for the continued harassment of South Asian folks.
“In S’pore, where the Chinese upper & middle classes reign supreme, we must expect snitches to target racial minorities, the working class, and migrants.
“And since the PAP government has shamefully pushed a “two separate infections” narrative, we must prepare ourselves for the continued harassment of South Asian folks,” warned @ikansumbat.
Local actor Prakash Arasu drew attention to one of such videos online through his critique of the “vigilante” threatening “a pitiful old man with a fine”.
“There are proper ways to educate someone especially the senior citizens despite their NATIONALITY. Unethical behaviour,” he tweeted on Thu (16 Apr) using the handle @PrakashGreen.
Firstly, is that guy even an enforcement officer to threaten a pitiful old man with a fine? Secondly, is this how we treat a senior citizen? There’a a proper ways to educate someone especially the senior citizens despite their NATIONALITY. Unethical behaviour. pic.twitter.com/huBwyEYP4Z
— Prakash Arasu (@PrakashGreen) April 16, 2020
In the video, an unidentified man behind the camera can be heard asking the senior if he wanted to be issued a S$300 fine for not wearing a mask while walking, even going so far as to ask the man if he is “educated”.
Far from the intended purpose of such videos, the footage sparked the anger of many, who chastised the unidentified man for speaking to a senior in such a manner.
User @stnrdiyana tweeted that another video of a similar nature has surfaced recently, and pointed out the absurdity of “threatening another couple to send the recorded video to the police” for simply walking after exercising.
The Government made the wearing of masks when leaving the house mandatory on Tue (14 Apr).
“The minute you leave your room, or you leave your house, you have to wear a mask when you go out,” said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a press conference by the multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19 on Tue.
Mr Wong warned that those found flouting the requirement the first time will be subject to a S$300 fine.
A second offence will carry a fine of S$1,000. Egregious cases will be prosecuted in court, he added.
Foreigners residing in Singapore on permanent resident status or work passes will also have their status or passes revoked should they violate the new rule.
The requirement, however, is subject to certain exceptions.
Children below the age of two will be subject to the requirement, in line with medical experts’ recommendations on child safety, he said.
As for adults, only those who are engaging in strenuous exercises such as running and jogging do not have to wear a mask. They will, however, be required to put it on once they stop exercising.