SINGAPORE: The police are investigating a 52-year-old man for making offensive and racist remarks, and for not wearing a mask in breach of COVID-19 “circuit breaker” measures.
The incident happened at about 6pm on Friday (Apr 17) when the man visited a grocery store at Block 651 Jurong West Street 61 to buy a packet of soy milk.
“The store’s female Chinese store supervisor denied the man entry and declined to sell him the item, as he was not wearing a mask,” police said in a news release on Saturday.
“The man took offence and hurled racist remarks and vulgarities at the supervisor. He also attributed the source of the COVID-19 virus to the Chinese people.”
In a video of the incident circulating on social media, the man was seen holding a packet of soy milk. He claimed that he forgot to bring his mask and was just buying “one thing”.
Police said they received several reports on the video on Saturday, adding that officers established the identity of the Malay man and tracked him down within three hours.
“The police take very seriously acts that can threaten racial harmony in Singapore,” it said, stating that investigations are ongoing.
“Any person who makes remarks that can cause ill-will and hostility between the different races will be dealt with swiftly and firmly.”
The offence of uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the racial feelings of any person carries a fine and/or imprisonment of up to three years.
The offence of causing intentional harassment carries a fine of up to S$5,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months.
First-time offenders who fail to wear a mask in public could also be fined S$300.
“The police urge the public to take the circuit breaker measures seriously,” they said. “Let us do our part to curb the spread of COVID-19.”