'Pass the buck' mentality emboldens criminals

'Pass the buck' mentality emboldens criminals

Last Thursday morning, I spotted a man filming upskirt videos of a female commuter at Ang Mo Kio MRT station. He was surreptitiously holding a black folder with a pinhole camera under the woman's skirt while queueing for the train.

I immediately informed a service ambassador who was at the platform, and told him to detain the man as the train was fast approaching.

The service ambassador observed the man for a while, then walked up to him to ask if he was indeed taking upskirt videos. The man just kept quiet.

Just then, the train arrived and the man managed to squeeze into the train, incidentally next to the woman he was filming. We could only watch helplessly as the train departed.

I was shocked that no action was taken to detain him. The service ambassador explained to me that only security personnel had the authority to do so; he was only a service staff member with no such powers.

He said he would report the incident and SMRT could use the closed-circuit TV camera footage to track down the man, though there was no guarantee of success.

This incident highlights a major security gap in public transport: Service staff see themselves only as ushers, while security personnel are a rare sight at train stations.

Does service extend only to asking commuters to queue up and move to the centre of the cabin? Why was the employee not inclined to step out of the prescribed confines of his role to do the right thing?

Such a mindset will only embolden criminals who think they can get away every time.

I feel sorry for the woman who was denied justice because of this "pass the buck" mentality.

I suggest that public transport operators either empower their service staff to do the right thing, or deploy more security staff at train stations.

This article was published on May 20 in The Straits Times.

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