News

'It's an overreaction'

Police stop screening of World Cup by resident in Balestier neighbourhood. One resident says:

It was a tense deadlock between Argentina and Nigeria at that point.

But before the crowd of about 80 people could find out if Lionel Messi's team would prevail, they were told to disperse by police officers.

The reason?

Safety concerns.

The group had gathered in front of Mr Rooban Kanth's terrace house, where the 26-year-old had set up his 42-inch LCD TV on the street for the World Cup match.

A police spokesman said officers were conducting anti-crime patrols in the area at about 12.20am on Thursdaywhen they saw the large group gathered outside Mr Rooban's home at Sing Avenue, which is off Rangoon Road in Balestier.

"Out of safety concerns, our officers advised the crowd to disperse," he said.

Mr Rooban had been screening matches outside his house every night of the tournament to share his passion with neighbours and foreign workers in the area.

Said the fresh university graduate: "The crowd was unexpectedly too big for the Argentina game.

"Everyone was disappointed that they had to disperse. But the police were nice, so we cooperated with them and shifted the TV set back inside my home."

The abrupt end, however, left some fuming.

Mr Michael Aw, 65, a retired policeman who lives opposite Mr Rooban, said: "It really is an overreaction from the police. This activity helps to build kampung spirit, which is a good thing."

Another neighbour, who wanted to be known only as Mr Guna, agreed.

The 54-year-old consultant, who lives at a nearby condominium, said: "It's just for the World Cup season and they were not disturbing anyone. The police should have handled it differently."

But Mr Alvin Yeo, who is part of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Home Affairs and Law, said the police had a job to do in ensuring law and order.

He said: "If there were 80 people gathered there, it was a large number and an accident could have happened.

"While what (Mr Rooban) did was commendable, there must be the space for such activities. For example, the community centres, where the matches are screened, have such space."

PRAISE

Meanwhile, Mr Baey Yam Keng, chairman of the GPC for Culture, Community and Youth, also praised Mr Rooban for sharing his World Cup television feed with neighbours and the community.

He urged Mr Rooban not to take the "unfortunate end" to heart.

He also suggested that Mr Rooban could screen the matches in his home, where the gathering of people would not obstruct public roads.

"Let's hope that this would not be the end of people sharing what they have," he told The New Paper.

Mr Rooban, who lives with his family of six, said he would take a break from screening the matches for the time being. He did not specify how long the break would be, but indicated that he will resume his screening later.

"Perhaps we'll find a way to ensure that the crowd doesn't get too large. But we love watching football and we'll continue to put the television outside (next time)," he said.