SINGAPORE - A 61-year-old man has been arrested for a rash act causing hurt, after he was filmed threatening to run down a security officer at Red Swastika School on Tuesday (Jan 11) morning.
A video circulating on social media showed the driver inching his Bentley forward a few times, pushing the security officer back despite being stopped from entering the primary school in Bedok.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, the police said they had been alerted at about 11.40am to the incident that occurred along Bedok North Avenue 3.
The 62-year-old security officer sustained minor injuries, the police said, adding that they are investigating.
Separately, the Ministry of Education is looking into the incident.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that he was aware of the video showing "a driver trying to enter a school and even using his car to engage in dangerous manoeuvres against a security officer and a school staff".
Calling this "unacceptable behaviour", Mr Chan said his ministry will not hesitate to make a police report if warranted.
The minister added: "As adults, we should set a positive example for our children in how we treat others with respect, and abide by the rules that are in place for the collective security of our school community."
In the video, a white Bentley is shown pushing against the security officer, who stood in front of the vehicle to prevent it from entering the primary school.
A member of the school staff is shown gesticulating and talking to a passenger standing next to the Bentley. After the passenger returned to the car, the staff used his hands to help the security officer stop the car from creeping forward.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, the Union of Security Employees (USE) said the security officer, Mr Neo Ah Whatt, is well and recovering at home.
USE general secretary Raymond Chin, 39, told The Straits Times that Mr Neo has been deployed to the school for nearly three years. He is hired under security firm Reachfield Security and Safety Management.
Mr Chin said: "He said that his right knee was painful and has been issued a three-day medical certificate after a medical checkup."
He added that the incident occurred at the school gate at around 7.30am, which is the usual rush hour for parents to drop pupils off at the school.
Mr Chin noted that the car had a valid label to enter the school, but had cut the queue of cars waiting to enter.
USE executive secretary Steve Tan, 48, called the incident "deplorable".
"(The security officer) had even gone to the extent of standing in front of the vehicle to prevent its entry, as the driver refused to obey the instructions," said Mr Tan.
"The union is very disturbed by this case of physical abuse. It is particularly egregious, given that a car was involved.
"There's quite a fair bit of anger from the community and on social media because of how the driver had endangered the security officer's life."
The union, which has since filed a police report on the incident, visited Mr Neo at his home on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Tan and other union representatives gave him $200 in cash and boxes of chicken essence and bird's nest.
Roughly two in five of 1,000 officers surveyed by USE between July and September last year said they experienced verbal or physical abuse while on duty.
Most of the abuse was targeted at older officers and came mostly from members of the public, which formed around 40 per cent of the abuse cases reported by officers.
Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, president of the Security Association Singapore, slammed the behaviour in the video as "unacceptable" and urged the public to report such incidents of abuse.He said: "Security officers' duties include ensuring that only authorised persons and vehicles enter the premises they are protecting, and in an orderly manner... It is completely unacceptable for members of the public to try to get their way by bullying, intimidating, causing physical harm to or in any other way harassing officers while they are performing their duties."
Mr Thomas said the Private Security Industry Act was amended last year to better protect officers, introducing heavier penalties for those who abuse security officers on duty. He added: "It is surprising that this extreme incident of abuse has occurred so quickly on the back of the amendments."
Madam May Tan, who has a daughter in Primary 5 at the school, described Mr Neo as a jovial and friendly man.
"Every day, he greets us by saying good morning and thank you," said the saleswoman, who is in her 40s, adding that the officer manages the flow of vehicles at the gate and guides pedestrians around the heavy traffic. "We respect him."
Some politicians took to Facebook to condemn the driver's actions and commend Mr Neo.
National Trades Union Congress secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said "this act of aggression against our officers who are merely carrying out their duties cannot be condoned".
Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan said Mr Neo showed dedication to his duty, by standing in front of the moving vehicle to ensure the safety and security of the school premises.
"Security officers play an important role in ensuring that the premises under their care are safe and secure," he added. "This is why it is imperative to ensure that they feel protected and have a safe environment when performing their duties.
"Abusive behaviour towards security officers should not be tolerated."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.