SINGAPORE — A police report has been filed against a man who punched a security officer repeatedly after he was told not to enter a supermarket in Tampines as he was not wearing a mask.
The attack left the officer, Sures Perimal, with bruises and contusions, said the Security Association Singapore (SAS) Chief of Staff Nicholas Gerard Lim Jia Sheng in a statement on Tuesday (5 July).
In response to queries by Yahoo News Singapore, Lim confirmed that the report was made by the victim with the support of his employer and SAS member Twinrock. Lim added that he is unaware whether the assailant has been apprehended by authorities.
The incident, which occurred at around 10.20pm on Monday, took place at the main entrance of the Giant Hypermart outlet at the Tampines Retail Park. The four-minute encounter was captured on a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera.
Sures was on duty at the outlet and had to ensure that COVID-19 safe management measures were complied by patrons, such as the wearing of masks indoors, Lim said.
After encountering an unmasked man who tried to enter the outlet, Sures told him that mask-wearing was mandatory indoors and that the man could get a mask from a Guardian outlet at the entrance of the building.
"The person was unhappy that SO (Security Officer) Sures had called him out for not wearing a mask, and after shouting some vulgarities at SO Sures, he entered the building," said Lim. "SO Sures continued carrying out his duties after this initial encounter with the person."
Shortly after, the man rushed out of the building and without warning, pushed Sures while shouting vulgarities at him, Lim added.
In the CCTV footage, the assailant could be seen shoving and punching Sures, who shielded himself from the blows with his arms, multiple times.
Members of the public, as well as a Giant Hypermart staff member, could be seen approaching the assailant and intervening to stop him.
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SAS "strongly condemns this unnecessarily senseless and violent act of abuse against SO Sures, who was merely carrying out his duties", Lim said.
Security agency TwinRock's managing director Terence Stahlmann described Sures as a responsible employee who has been with the company for over six years. "He is soft-spoken and diligent. I cannot imagine why anyone would confront him and assault him in this way," he added.
SAS president Raj Joshua Thomas called the attack yet "another sickening incident of abuse" against a security officer who was on duty. "The police attended to the matter at the scene and we will leave it to the authorities to investigate and take the appropriate action."
Thomas said he was heartened by those who stepped in to defend the officer and thanked them for their civic-mindedness and responsibility.
"Security officers...often have to deal with difficult people and situations. We all have a responsibility to support them and cooperate with them. We must have zero tolerance for any abuse of our officers," he added.
In view of such similar incidents, a new Medal for Professionalism will be awarded on 21 July to recognise the efforts of security officers who have continued to maintain professionalism and carry out their duties in difficult situations.
Amendments to the Private Security Industry Act, which took effect from 1 May, will see those who assault or use criminal force against security officers face enhanced penalities – a maximum jail term of two years or a fine of up to S$7,500, or both.
According to the findings of a survey – conducted by the Union of Security Employees (USE) and Singapore University of Social Sciences – released last December, some two in five security officers said they had experienced verbal or physical abuse while on duty, most of whom were older officers.
An average of about 150 cases of such abuse were reported each year from 2018 to 2020. So far this year, 18 such cases have been handled by and reported to USE via its customer service centre and mobile app.
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