Officer accused of molesting woman gave different account of what happened: NEA

Smokers at Suntec City.
Smokers at Suntec City.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A National Environment Agency (NEA) officer accused of hugging a woman from behind has given a different account of what happened, NEA said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 14).

"The officer highlighted has given his account of what had happened, which is different from what was alleged, to the police," an NEA spokesman said.

NEA said that they are aware of the case which happened at Suntec City Tower 2 on Jan 8. The enforcement officers had seen a woman smoking under the covered walkway near the staircase of Suntec City Tower 2, and asked for her particulars.

"The incident occurred as our officers were requesting for her particulars in order to take enforcement action against her for smoking in a smoking prohibited place," NEA said.

"Subsequently, the enforcement officers requested police assistance."

The agency did not provide more details as the police are investigating the case.

The 33-year-old woman, who has not been named, told Shin Min Daily News that an NEA enforcement officer hugged her from behind when he was trying to stop her from leaving.

She told the Chinese daily that she lit up her cigarette as she was approaching a smoking area at Suntec City Tower 2 during her lunch break.

She was then stopped by a man who said he was an NEA officer.

"The man claimed that he is an NEA officer and asked me to show my identity card, but I did not bring it downstairs so I quickly stubbed out my cigarette and tried to leave," she told Shin Min.

As she was heading back to her office, she said that she was stopped by a second man, who blocked her way.

She told Shin Min that the man asked her for her identity card, but did not show his own identification. She ignored him, called her husband and continued to walk back to her office building.

As she was using her staff pass to enter a gantry at the office building, she said she felt someone hug her from behind.

When she managed to break free, she realised that it was the second man who had tried to stop her earlier.

The man then grabbed her left arm, only letting go when she shouted: "What do you want? Why are you doing this?"

She said that the officer had touched her chest and she felt humiliated. She then called the police, Shin Min reported.

At one point, she tried to board a taxi to leave the area but was stopped by the man, who opened the door and told the driver not to drive off. The woman then alighted.

It is unclear what happened next.

Later, the woman's husband arrived at the scene and they went to a police station to make a report.

The police confirmed that a report was made and said that they are investigating.

NEA said that their officers are trained to handle "challenging field situations", and the agency has "strict protocols" to guide them.

"This includes engagement and disengagement of offenders, as well as handling of situations where offenders try to escape," NEA said.

Offenders caught smoking in a prohibited area can be fined from $200 to $1,000, according to the agency's website.