Two charged with verbally abusing public servants during coronavirus outbreak

Two Singaporean men have been charged with verbally abusing public servants in separate incidents during the coronavirus outbreak.

Eddie Neo Zhong Jie, 35, and Lew Wei Ming, 37, were each charged with one count of harassment in a district court on Wednesday.

The duo were among eight people - seven Singaporean men and a Taiwanese woman - who appeared in court that day over offences such as assault and failing to wear their masks over their noses and mouths when stepping outside. They are between 35 and 58 years old.

One of them, Mohamed Ali Ramly, 52, was allegedly caught on video verbally abusing a store supervisor with vulgarities and racist remarks.

He is said to have committed the offences when he went to Li Li Cheng Minimart at Block 651 Jurong West Street 61 at around 6pm last Friday.

Another alleged offender, Alan Lim, 55, is accused of slapping and shoving a service attendant at an Esso petrol station in Jervois Road at around 6pm on April 12.

The cases involving all eight alleged offenders are still pending.

According to court documents, Lew allegedly used "insulting words" on a police officer, Senior Staff Sergeant Don Ng Zhen Xuan, outside the School of the Arts in Zubir Said Drive near Orchard Road at around 4.30pm on April 16.

The police said in a statement on Wednesday evening that Lew had allegedly insulted the policeman after the officer issued him a notice of composition for not wearing a mask in the vicinity.

They added that Lew has since been issued a composition fine for failing to put on a mask.

Neo is accused of saying a vulgar word to Singapore Food Agency enforcement officer Muhammad Nazri Roseli at a coffee shop at Block 253 Jurong East Street 24, Yuhua Village, at around noon on April 13.

The police said Neo allegedly committed the offence during an enforcement check on illegal hawking at the eatery.

They added that he has also been issued a composition fine for illegal hawking, which is an offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measure) (Control Order) Regulations 2020.

They also said Neo had carried out a business outside his home as a non-essential service provider. They did not state what he was selling at the time.

The police did not reveal details about the fines handed to Neo and Lew.

On Wednesday, the court heard that Neo intends to plead guilty to his charge and will be back in court on May 6. Lew's pre-trial conference will be held on May 8.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2020, with the headline Two charged with verbally abusing public servants during coronavirus outbreak. Subscribe