Coronavirus: Stabbed NParks enforcement officer in stable condition after operation

A safe distancing ambassador at work at Clementi Mall on Monday. The attack on Monday has raised concerns among these ambassadors, who ensure safe distancing at parks, malls and other public areas daily. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
A safe distancing ambassador at work at Clementi Mall on Monday. The attack on Monday has raised concerns among these ambassadors, who ensure safe distancing at parks, malls and other public areas daily. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

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, the board told The Straits Times yesterday.

A 61-year-old man was arrested for attempted murder on Monday and is expected to be charged today.

The man, who did not have a mask on, was apparently cutting pandan leaves at Sungei Serangoon Park Connector on Monday when NParks officers approached him.

He became aggressive, attacked one of them with a sharp instrument and fled on his bicycle.

The injured officer had serious injuries to his chest, arm and hand, and was conscious when taken to the hospital.

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 safe distancing guidelines.

Some 1,000 NParks officers have been deployed to parks, gardens and nature reserves to keep green spaces safe for the public to exercise, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development.

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

Enterprise Singapore said it has safety measures in place for its pool of about 450 safe distancing ambassadors, who are mainly recruited from industries affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, including retail, tourism and travel.

"Our ambassadors typically work in pairs, so that they can keep a lookout for each other. They have also been briefed on safety protocols should they face any threat or aggressive behaviour from businesses or individuals," said an Enterprise Singapore spokesman.

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

 
 
 
 

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said more people are complying with circuit breaker measures.

Around 500 people have been caught in the past week for breaching safe distancing measures, and 270 people were fined for not wearing masks, said Mr Masagos in an update on Facebook yesterday.

This is a drop from the first week of enforcement operations, when 600 people were caught flouting the measures and 430 unmasked people were fined.

Ms Marianne Tan, 32, a freelance emcee who signed up to be a safe distancing ambassador, said Monday's incident 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 arm's length."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2020, with the headline 'Stabbed NParks enforcement officer in stable condition after op'. Subscribe