The Straits Times says

Act on unwarranted online behaviour

The recent incident involving a condominium resident and a security guard, over a $10 overnight parking fee for the resident's guests, holds lessons for society, beginning with the resident himself. Remarks about buying the apartment for $1.5 million exuded a sense of class entitlement derived from living in private and not public housing. This attitude was complicated by the fact that the resident, a foreign-born citizen and a young and successful professional, faced off with an elderly Singaporean security guard. The security guard, with typical Singaporean forbearance, remained professional in his response to what many saw as unreasonable behaviour. It is necessary for security guards to be better protected from the anger of residents when they do no more than enforce rules laid down by a condominium or estate's management committee. If guards do not do so, they face punitive sanctions from the management.

Residents who think that certain rules, such as those concerning parking rights for visitors, are wrong should take up the issue with the management, not vent their frustration on guards who are, in effect, an interface between the management and residents. The apology reportedly made by the resident to the security guard takes the sting off this particular incident, but there will continue to be instances of errant attitudes unless residents know that abusive behaviour, whether towards guards or others, will not likely end at the gates of the condominium. However, the way in which some members of the public responded to the incident amplifies the very attitudes they seek to condemn. Not only was the resident subjected to virulent online abuse, but his privacy was also invaded and destroyed by the broadcast of his particulars that made him fair game for all. Laws against this kind of vigilante justice must be applied so that netizens will pause before they seek to attack people, no matter how provocative the actions of a person might appear to be. Only the proper authorities, or a court, should decide who is at fault: individuals cannot do so. They are entitled to air their views - so long as it does not invade or violate the rights of the alleged offender under the law.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2019, with the headline 'Act on unwarranted online behaviour'. Print Edition | Subscribe