Netizens criticise Tangs for lack of respect and inclusivity after wheelchair-assisted man allegedly asked by security officer to “go away” while shopping at Tangs Plaza

41-year-old local writer Wesley Wee recently took to his Facebook page to recount his unpleasant encounter at Tangs Plaza where he was allegedly followed by a security officer who asked him to “go away” when he was on a shopping trip.

Mr Wee, who is wheelchair-bound due to his cerebral palsy, described that he went to Tangs Plaza last week to look for something to buy. However, the salesperson was allegedly “unlikely to help him”.

Instead, the salesperson called the security guard for Mr Wee.

“The guard came and he asked me to go away, he said to me do not disturb.

“The reason why I went there is to look for something to buy but as I keep moving and looking for something to buy, the guard keep (sic) following me,” he wrote on his post.

According to Mr Wee, the security guard was allegedly telling him not to ask for money here.

“It was very offensive because even if he never says anything, he thinks I am a beggar that’s why he keeps following me wherever I go (inside Tangs).

“I just want to buy things and I am not a beggar,” he lamented.

Tangs Plaza: Security officer raises his voice when speaking due to crowd and that it could have been read as “rudeness”

Responding to Mr Wee’s allegations, Tangs Singapore on Wednesday (26 November) that they expressed regret over Mr Wee’s experience, adding that they had immediately initiated internal investigations and made contact with him after they were alerted to his feedback, as reported by AsiaOne.

Tangs clarified that their security officers patrol the plaza regularly for crowd control and their patrolling is done with greater frequency with the increased crowds during peak hours, especially on the weekends.

This is done in line with social distancing safety measures.

“Due to the crowd, our security officer had to raise his voice when speaking and we understand how it could have been read as rudeness,” Tangs asserted.

According to AsiaOne, due to crowd control concerns, the security officer “had only asked Mr Wee to move away from where he had been speaking with the staff”.

Claiming that the security officer did not follow Mr Wee when he entered Tangs Plaza, it said that the security officer had instead “approached a small crowd” near Mr Wee and asked them to disperse to avoid disturbing the other customers.

After the incident, Tangs said that they have spoken to the security team and also reminded all frontline employees to “ensure that they treat all customers with dignity and respect”.

Mr Wee also responded on the comment section under his post, saying that Tangs’ manager has contacted him.

He clarified that his post did not mean to create any problems, as he only wanted to share his feelings about the alleged incident.

It was previously reported by The Straits Times that Mr Wee has been selling packets of tissue in his wheelchair in Orchard Road for years.

In light of COVID-19 pandemic, he is now selling items through live-streaming platforms, trying his best to speak to his audience despite having speech difficulty.

He also spent five years using his right toe to type out every letter for his book “Finding Happiness Against The Odds”, which have been sold out nearly 10,000 copies since it published in 2017.

Netizens’ reaction

Penning their thoughts on the Facebook pages of Mothership.sg and AsiaOne, many netizens criticised Tangs, as this is not the first time Tangs has been accused of discriminating people.

“You may have the authority, but you also have to treat others with kindness and respect,” a netizen wrote.

A handful of netizens also criticised the management team of Tangs for their poor management training as they felt that their staff are not being inclusive of people from different backgrounds.

Earlier, it was reported that Tangs faced public backlash over an incident involving a part-time promoter at a pop-up booth at the department store, in which she was allegedly instructed by two managers to remove her hijab to continue working.

The incident was first made known publicly when the business owner, who identified herself as Ms Chin speaking to TODAY, posted Instagram stories regarding the 29 July incident on her business account anastasiabyraine.

Ms Chin told TODAY that when she asked the Tangs staff members for an explanation behind asking the promoter to remove her hijab, they responded that it was for ‘professionalism-sake’.

Since then, Tangs has said through the spokesperson on 18 Aug that it would “never” ask anyone to immediately remove their religious headscarf.

“As a company with a diverse, and multi-racial workforce, we are respectful of cultural and religious practices and requirements and asking anyone to remove their religious headscarf immediately is offensive, and we would never do so.”

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