Safe distancing enforcement officer who was stabbed in stable condition after undergoing surgery, says NParks

A 61-year-old man was arrested for attempted murder over the stabbing. PHOTOS: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - The safe distancing enforcement officer from the National Parks Board (NParks) who was stabbed while on duty is in a stable condition after undergoing surgery at Changi General Hospital.

A 61-year-old man was arrested for attempted murder on Monday (May 4) and is expected to be charged on Wednesday (May 6).

The man, who did not have a mask on, was understood to be cutting pandan leaves at Sungei Serangoon Park Connector when NParks officers approached him. He then turned aggressive, attacked one of them with a sharp instrument and fled on his bicycle. An NParks spokesman told ST that the injured officer is now recovering in the hospital and that his condition is stable.

The officer had serious injuries to his chest, arm and hand, and was conscious when conveyed to the hospital. He was putting up SafeEntry signs along the park connector.

If convicted of attempted murder, the man could face a jail term.

The maximum penalty for the offence when the victim is hurt is life imprisonment and caning. Men above 50 years old, though, are spared the cane.

On the ground, the incident has raised concerns among the thousands of safe distancing ambassadors, including government officers and volunteers, who hit the markets, parks, malls and other public areas daily to ensure that people observe guidelines such as wearing of masks and observing the 1m rule when standing in queues.

Many of the ambassadors were also recruited from hard-hit industries such as tourism and retail.

On Monday, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said in a Facebook post that many SG Clean and safe distancing ambassadors have been deployed to public places and in HDB estates across Singapore since the start of the circuit breaker period.

"Of these, around 1,000 NParks officers have been doing so in our parks, gardens and nature reserves to help keep our green spaces safe for the public to exercise," said Mr Lee, who is Second Minister for National Development.

ST understands that NParks has reached out to its ambassadors to update them on the incident and to reassure them that their safety is of utmost importance.

Enforcement operations, in the meantime, are continuing as usual.

Ms Marianne Tan, 32, a freelance emcee, who signed up to be a safe distancing ambassador with Enterprise Singapore (ESG) two weeks ago said the incident on Monday was "a little shocking".

She said: "It really drove home the fact that this could potentially happen to anyone so we have to be careful in the way we approach people and to stand at arms' length."

Ms Tan who is deployed to various malls across Singapore, added: "Because I'm mostly in malls, there's not much chance that people will be carrying weapons or dangerous items but it does make you a little more wary."

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