A food stall owner who had removed his mask to momentarily get some fresh air was allegedly reprimanded by an National Environment Agency (NEA) officer who told him to wear the masks which covers his nose and mouth at all times in the stall.
Last Wednesday (15 April), the owner of Salam Satay Roslan Rahman took to his Facebook to share his experience of being impolitely cautioned by the officer to comply with the circuit breaker measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Mr Roslan, who had his masked on when making satay at his stall, said that he had noticed a group of one male and two females officers coming towards the coffee shop.
As he found the heat in the kitchen to be “unbearable”, he turned around and pulled down his mask to wipe the sweat off his face and get a sip of a drink. Then, he continued to work after he washed his hands and pulled his mask back on.
However, one of the female enforcement officers from the group approached Mr Roslan. He only realised that she was an enforcement officer when he saw the pass that she wore.
Mr Roslan noted that the enforcement officer saw him with his face mask down and told him that he “must cover the nose and mouth at all times in the stall”.
He apologised and tried to explain to the officer why he had his mask down at the time but the officer merely replied by saying, “I don’t care, not my problem”.
Mr Roslan also shared the response of the officer who saw his fall down from his nose during the conversation.
He wrote, “Whilst talking, my face mask drop down from my nose. ( I’m fat, surely my face big). Enforcer: ‘See now ur[your] face mask not proper’. Me: ‘Ok’.”
He also mentioned that his wife was shocked by the exchange after seeing the whole incident.
While agreeing that authority has been given to enforcement officers to ensure that the public are adhering to safety measures, Mr Roslan pointed out that the officer should not have acted arrogantly and that they need to be tactful when approaching people.
“Dun[Don’t] need for u[you] to be rude unless u[you] can tell me how I can wipe my face and drink wif[with] my mask on,” he remarked sarcastically.
He also wondered whether anyone is being investigated for defying enforcers who were giving the same treatment he received.
Netizens criticise enforcement officer for abusing their power and being rude
Upon reading the post, most netizens criticised the described arrogant attitude and rude manner of the enforcement officer, saying that these officers who have given authority and power are abusing their authority on the job.
Many netizens noted that enforcers should be educated with “basic mannerism” and “upkeep their professionalism” to prevent them from misusing and mishandling their responsibility.
One netizen pointed out that some enforcers do not even comply with the safe distancing rules themselves, yet instruct others to follow the rules.
Some netizens doubted the criteria of becoming enforcement officers, questioning whether they have been trained enough to handle these kind of situations before they were deployed. Hence, they asked the authorities to send enforcement officers for “proper training” to avoid showing “stupidity” while performing their duties.
Mocking the way the enforcement officer spoke to the stall owner, some netizens jokingly remarked that the officer should demonstrate how to drink with a mask on.
Another netizen also questioned why the people aren’t allowed to pull down their mask just to take a sip of drink but joggers can go out jogging without wearing a face mask.
Meanwhile, a few netizens claimed that there is a quota system “to earn commissions” for these enforcers and that is the reason why they “have no pride or passion with their job” but simply commit to meet their daily quota.
“They follow the job scope given strictly like a robot, even if outside their job scope and someone committed the offence they turn one eye close,” one netizen wrote.
A few netizens suggested that these kind of situations should be reported to the relevant authorities as it is necessary to avoid an abuse of power by such enforcers.
Despite rightfully carrying out their duties, some netizens opined that these enforcers should understand the condition and nature of the people’s occupation and weigh those factors before charging someone with an offence.