Forum: Safe distancing ambassador could have behaved more professionally

I am writing to express my displeasure at how some safe distancing ambassadors (SDAs) conduct themselves in the course of their work.

I understand the gravity of the Covid-19 pandemic and acknowledge that these enforcement officers play a role in keeping Singaporeans safe, but some of them behave in an uncalled-for manner.

I was at a nail salon in Bugis Street one Saturday, when an SDA barged in and asked everyone loudly to halt all activity.

Without seeking consent, he used his smartphone to record a video of him asking us if we knew one another.

He then measured the distance between patrons and demanded that we produce our identity cards so that investigating officers could contact us should they require any statements from us.

First, he could have been more civil in his approach. He said enforcement officers were checking if businesses were adhering to safe distancing rules - in that case, he should have spoken to the salon operator instead of frightening the patrons.

Second, being questioned on camera without consent felt like an invasion of privacy, and it felt like I was a criminal being investigated.

Third, he could have asked for my cooperation if needed, instead of demanding that I produce my NRIC.

When I suggested that he record my particulars without taking a photo of my NRIC, he threatened to call the police if we did not cooperate. Eventually, another SDA stepped in and agreed to my suggestion.

This experience has left me distrustful of strangers calling themselves SDAs, knowing that all my particulars can be so forcefully and easily obtained.

As representatives of the Government, SDAs should conduct themselves in a professional manner to create an environment where people feel safe and willing to comply with their requests.

Vanessa Wah Yi Fang

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.