Bangladeshi cleaner punched by man who harassed town council workers in MacPherson

Bangladeshi worker Babul is seen standing next to Ms Tin Pei Ling in the video. His son was punched by the man. PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM TIN PEI LING/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - A Bangladeshi cleaner was punched in the chest on Thursday by a man who in the past had harassed and broken the brooms of town council workers, said MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling.

In a video posted on social media site Instagram late on Thursday night, Ms Tin said that the man was likely drunk when he attacked the worker.

She said: “This man, likely intoxicated, then decided to hunt down one of the other cleaners and punched him in the chest.”

The incident happened at about 11am on Thursday at the void deck of Block 87 Circuit Road, NRT Trading and Engineering managing director Sakthivelan Nararajah told The Straits Times on Friday.

Mr Sakthivelan’s company is a contractor hired by Marine Parade Town Council.

In the video clip, seen standing next to Ms Tin is Bangladeshi worker Babul, 48, who goes by one name. It was his son Ahammed Siyam, 20, who was punched by the man.

Father and son work together as cleaners for the town council, said Ms Tin.

Mr Babul, a site supervisor, has worked for Marine Parade Town Council for many years, she added.

Mr Babul said in the video that the man, whose identity is not known, punched his son out of the blue when he was walking in the estate. His son went to see a doctor after the attack.

“I’m so very sad,” he said, adding that his heart ached for his son.

The police said they received a call for assistance at 88 Circuit Road at about 11.30am.

A 62-year-old man was involved in the incident and investigations are ongoing, they added.

Mr Babul said that this was not the first time he had asked the man to stop harassing the cleaners, but the man would still break and throw away things like their brooms and mops.

Mr Sakthivelan said the man had harassed two other cleaners since October 2022, but the police were not involved previously because things did not get violent.

He added that the man would usually hang around the estate and drink beer. He would then verbally abuse cleaners by hurling vulgarities at them.

The cleaners would usually just avoid the man or ignore him, he said.

Mr Sakthivelan said: “Babul has been working with me for more than 10 years. If our cleaners were unfairly treated, he would always voice it out.”

Mr Sakthivelan, who is his manager and helped to translate for Mr Babul, added that the father was sad because he and his son came all the way from Bangladesh to earn a living, and they are just trying their best to serve the residents.

Ms Tin, who appeared dismayed in the video clip, said violence should not be condoned.

She added that Mr Babul is a dedicated and friendly worker.

During the live stream, residents posted comments attesting to his hard-working nature.

Ms Tin said: “If there are things that we need to improve, let us know. But to attack the workers, knowing that they are very worried about getting into trouble and will try to stay away from attention at all cost – I think that’s not right.

“Hopefully, we can all work together to create a kinder society and prevent such incidents from happening again.”

Ms Tin added that workers who are helping to serve MacPherson deserve to be respected.

In a Facebook post on Friday, the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union, or Batu, condemned the unprovoked attack on Mr Siyam and said that it was not right to harm cleaners, no matter the circumstances.

It said: “Batu urges the authorities to show a clear signal that such behaviour should not and will not be tolerated. This will give assurance to our workers working in public areas that they can perform their work safely.”

Under the Protection from Harassment Act, those convicted of harassing public service workers while they perform their duties face a jail term of up to 12 months, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Town council cleaners are considered public service workers under the law.

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