Minister Khaw: Respect for public officers is the way to go

Public officers can face verbal and even physical abuse as they carry out their work, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post on Tuesday, as he called for more "mutual respect". -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Public officers can face verbal and even physical abuse as they carry out their work, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post on Tuesday, as he called for more "mutual respect". -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Public officers can face verbal and even physical abuse as they carry out their work, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post on Tuesday, as he called for more "mutual respect".

He highlighted the case of an officer at a HDB Service Centre at Buona Vista who was shouted at by a resident, who also threw objects at him after refusing to accept his explanation about a mortgage loan matter.

Mr Khaw said these frontline officers have challenging jobs and many work "tirelessly at the counters, with admirable dedication and determination to provide good service".

He added: "Sometimes, there are instances where our public officers have been put in a difficult situation, or even subjected to verbal and physical abuse."

After the Buona Vista incident in August, a police report was made and the offender was charged in court where he pleaded guilty and was fined.

"Although badly shaken, thankfully, our officers were not hurt," he added.

Mr Khaw said such extreme events are not common, but urged the public to accord public workers the "respect and dignity they deserve, and together, build a kind and gracious society". "Mutual respect is the way to go," he stressed.

He also highlighted a letter written by Ms Ho Lin Lee to the Straits Times forum in September. In it, the Tampines resident thanked the HDB and Town Council officers for their prompt action in attending to a leaking pipe in her flat.

Mr Khaw thanked Ms Ho and said her affirmation goes a long way in encouraging frontline officers to serve with excellence.

samboh@sph.com.sg