Singapore’s COVID-snitches harass and shame strangers in racially charged videos

Still images of a couple, at left, and a man being harassed for not wearing masks in public. Photos: Tiagong, Kavitha Haridas/Facebook
Still images of a couple, at left, and a man being harassed for not wearing masks in public. Photos: Tiagong, Kavitha Haridas/Facebook

Ever since Singapore’s government made it illegal to go out without a mask, more people have appointed themselves neighborhood snitches on a mission to humiliate others – with racial and xenophobic overtones. 

“[S]hould send them back to India,” was the caption topping one video of a couple being told off for not wearing masks, while another man is told to his face “we don’t owe you a living.” The videos have been circulating widely online since yesterday, though it was unclear where or when either incident took place.

In one video, a man hounds a couple that appear to be of Indian descent purportedly out for a run; on Monday people were told they could only remove masks while actively exercising. 

“I would like to see you run. The government say already the moment you stop you have to wear,” a voice is heard in a clip that trails a couple walking without face masks. 

“I am not torturing you. I have been following you from the park until here you have been walking, you have not been running, so please put on your masks! Be socially responsible!” the voice adds after the couple expressed that they were being tortured by him.

It is now illegal to be in public without wearing a face mask as part of temporary laws aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, which has infected 4,427 in Singapore as of this morning. 

The other video shows a man walking alone when he is rudely told off by someone acting as a safe-distancing enforcement officer for not wearing a mask. 

“Hello, put on your mask. Do you have a mask with you? … Put on,” the voice in the video said while the man took out a towel and began to cover his face.

The man then shows the kind of xenophobia that’s been unleashed worldwide since the pandemic has spread to every corner of the globe, sickening more than two million people.

“You want me to fine you S$300? Unless you are running! You are walking! How can you don’t put mask?! … Are you educated? Then you don’t understand this? How much it costs our country to do this? You don’t owe me a living, we don’t owe you a living either. Please.”

The man obliged and covered his face.

Among the reactions to the video were those who questioned whether it was right to intimidate people under the pretext of social responsibility.

“Pretending to be a Good Samaritan; going around asking people to wear their mask. No this isnt an act of goodwill at all,” Facebook user Kavitha Haridas said yesterday. She was one of those who had posted a video of the sole man appearing to be jogging in public.

“Enforcement staff should be educated.. the way you speak is like finding a fight! So what if people out there is not educated.. not educated again the law? Please be more respectful,” another named Edmund Cheong wrote in the comments. 

About 3,000 enforcement officers, which include people from various government agencies, have been deployed on the ground to make sure people wear masks, do not gather socially, or dine in at eateries during the virtual lockdown, according to the Environment and Water Resources Ministry on Wednesday. Violators face S$300 (US$210) fines on the first offense. 

Those engaging in strenuous exercises are allowed to take off their face masks but would have to put them back on when they’re done. Children under 2 do not have to wear masks due to safety concerns.

Singaporeans can also report safe-distancing violators to the authorities through the OneService app. 

Meanwhile, a separate group of people has been shaming alleged violators by sharing photos and videos of them in a new Facebook group called SG Covidiot. At least 14,000 people have joined the group. 

Other stories you should see:

A New ‘Home’: Patriotic Singapore anthem gets virtual choir remake for these COVID-19 times
Pay it forward: Singaporeans urged to donate S$600 payouts to those who (really) need them
COVID-19: Singaporeans must now wear masks as infections top 3,000; death toll rises to 10
Advocates and patients fume after Singapore deems mental health services ‘nonessential’


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