LTA enforcement officer arrested for affray

From ‘Suspended LTA enforcement officer arrested by police after scuffle with Uber driver’, 28 Nov 2015, article in CNA

A Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement officer who was suspended from all duties after being caught on video in a scuffle with another man – said to be an Uber driver – has been arrested by the police for affray.

…In the video, a man in an LTA enforcement officer’s uniform is seen throwing a punch at another man clad in a blue polo tee, and both end up scuffling until a bystander intervenes.

A netizen identified as Amber Pek said the incident happened after an Uber car came to pick her up at the taxi stand along Victoria Street, near Bugis Junction. She had posted the video of the incident on Facebook on Friday (Nov 27), saying that the man involved was the driver of the Uber car she hired.

…In response to media queries, police have confirmed that reports were lodged and a 50-year-old man has been arrested. A 59-year-old old man is also currently assisting with investigations, they added.

…Certis CISCO also released a statement saying its contractual agreement with LTA ended in October 2015 and that the officer involved in the incident is not its employee.

An affray is legally defined as 2 or more people fighting in a public place and disturbing the peace, yet only the LTA officer is arrested while the Uber uncle is ‘assisting with investigations’. By his own admission, the latter retaliated to the first punch, but given the brutality suffered, teeth lost and all, is likely to be given a warning instead of being thrown in the same cell as his nemesis.

CISCO were quick to distance themselves from the culprit. A Sunday Times article (29 Nov 15) later revealed that the LTA officer was in fact from a company known as ‘Ramky Cleantech Services’. An unusual name for an organisation that provides enforcement ‘solutions’, sounding more like a provider of sanitation services.

Indeed, according to their website, Ramky caters to office needs by supplying cleaning aunties, among other things like pest control and washing windows and walls. On the enforcement services side, they supply vehicles, wheel clamping and ‘foot patrolling officers’. Which makes the average motorist wonder: If the ‘matas’ who issue summons and catch you when you park illegally are not from the actual TP, who the heck are they and where do they come from?

It started in 2010 when LTA announced that they would relieve the TP of some functions, including the administration of illegal parking and closing roads for repairs. The work was then outsourced to private companies. In response to letters, LTA assured the public that CERTIS CISCO had a comprehensive training programme to ensure that officers carry out their duties professionally. In fact, before LTA came into the scene, parking offence duties were already outsourced by the TP themselves to CISCO since 1999.

In 2013, Ramky won the tender for providing traffic wardens. You can view the details of the successful bid yourself on the LTA website.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.20.40 AM

Following the rulebooks is one thing, the manner in which one stamps authority, however, is another. Some drivers have complained that the real cops can be in fact more LENIENT than outsourced wardens when it comes to parking violations, the latter deemed to be inflexible and very ‘rigid’. One warden actually BOOKED A DAMN POLICE CAR in what was referred to as the ‘summons of the year’.

One possible reason for this overzealousness, as a ST forum writer suggested in 2006, was that ‘external companies are driven by profits which are invariably tied to the amount of fines collected’. In order to prove to LTA that you’re well worth the money, you probably need to set a certain summons quota as an indicator of your performance. As an individual employee, that translates to incentives and promotions. CISCO claimed that salaries are not linked to fines collected. I don’t know about the rest.

Sticklers to the rules aside, a more worrying concern is whether our wardens, without the necessary police combat training, would be able to handle aggressive drivers who would gladly engage you in an ‘affray’ if they don’t like your face, knowing you’re just a hired goon without a pistol or taser. One poor soul got noodles thrown in his face, to the rapturous applause of bystanders. If it had been a TP, the offender could land himself a few weeks in jail for assaulting a public officer.

It’s a thankless job, and I’m sure there are wardens who do exercise discretion and don’t kick fallen uncles in the ribcage. But one does wonder if scrappy fights can be avoided if the duty was carried out by the TP rather than employees of companies that also specialise in toilet cleaning. In the case of this LTA vs Uber scuffle, the shit just hit the fan.

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