Friday, 18 July 2014

Verbal abuse of civil servants ‘uncalled for’

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Law Minister K Shanmugam related the case of a man who verbally abused and threatened Legal Aid Bureau staff.
Channel NewsAsia, 17 Jul 2014

Reminding Singaporeans that civil servants try to do their best to serve the public, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam urged the public not to verbally abuse them.

Interactions between front-line officers of the Government and members of the public sometimes come under the spotlight because individuals feel unhappy with the treatment they get, said Mr Shanmugam, who noted that it is important that civil servants “treat the public properly”.

However, civil servants occasionally get rudely treated too, he added, although these are “thankfully” a small minority.

Writing on his Facebook page on Wednesday (July 16), the minister cited one such “unfortunate” incident that happened recently, in which a man threatened officers at the Legal Aid Bureau after being turned down for aid because he did not meet minimum requirements.

The man had sought the bureau’s help in commencing divorce proceedings against his wife but did not qualify for legal aid because he had been married for less than three years.

“The man became agitated and started smoking and burning forms in the bureau. He also threatened to smash the office with a hammer and burn it down. The man was arrested before he could carry out his threats,” said Mr Shanmugam.

“What this man did was unacceptable. His verbal abuse and threats towards Legal Aid Bureau staff were uncalled for, especially since the staff had tried their best to help him.”

Mr Shanmugam noted that this was “not a standalone incident” and that he had heard of similar instances of such verbal abuse directed at civil servants in the past few months.

“This is not right,” he said. “Civil servants perform their duties to the best of their abilities, just like everyone else. They play vital but oft-unseen roles in the running of our country.”

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