Singapore

Around 80 mask-wearing disputes on public transport since April

Land Transport Authority says about 40 people have been fined for not doing so

There have been around 80 cases of disputes involving commuters who did not mask up on public transport since April, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday.

About 40 people have been fined for not doing so, it added.

The other cases still have their outcomes pending, or were resolved without police involvement.

The wearing of masks in public was made compulsory in Singapore on April 14 as a measure against the coronavirus.

Failure to do so may result in a fine of $300 for first-time offenders, and repeat offenders face higher fines or prosecution in court.

Disputes between commuters and public transport workers over mask rules have been in the spotlight after videos of arguments were uploaded and shared on social media.

The LTA noted that while most commuters comply after being reminded to wear their masks correctly, some have refused to cooperate and resorted to verbal and physical harassment.

"We do not condone such behaviour towards our public transport workers, and offenders will be dealt with according to the law," said its spokesman.

On Sunday, a commuter on a Circle Line train was caught on video hurling vulgarities at SMRT staff who had urged him to wear his mask properly.

"The commuter verbally abused the staff and continued the abusive behaviour while travelling in the network," said Ms Margaret Teo, the rail operator's chief communications officer.

DRUNK

The 51-year-old man was subsequently arrested by the police at Khatib MRT station.

The police said he reeked of alcohol and was arrested for causing annoyance to the public when drunk under Section 14(2)(b) of the Liquor Control Act and for using abusive language against a public servant.

Earlier this month, SBS Transit made a police report against a commuter after he allegedly abused and threatened a bus captain who told him to put on his mask.

When the man refused to comply despite being told several times, the driver reported the incident to the operations control centre.

The man then became aggressive and hurled vulgarities and threats at the driver. A witness said that when he finally got off, he spat twice at the bus door.

In another incident last week, Facebook user Nimal De Silva posted a 15-minute live video of himself verbally abusing a bus driver who would not let him board a public bus wearing a neck gaiter instead of a face mask.

The Ministry of Health does not recommend the use of neck gaiters and bandannas as masks. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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