Thursday 19 November 2015

Assault on MSF officer at Social Service Office: Man gets 24 weeks' jail

* Man gets 24 weeks' jail for beating up MSF manager
He wanted financial aid but slapped, punched officer who queried his big bank withdrawals
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent, The Straits Times, 1 Mar 2016

An unemployed man who slapped and repeatedly punched a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) manager was jailed for 24 weeks yesterday.

Tan Seng Choon, 56, admitted to attacking Ms Lim Sock Ling at the MSF Social Service Office in Lorong 6 Toa Payoh on Nov 6 last year.

He had gone to the office to apply for financial aid.

Tan Seng Choon, 56, had gone to apply for financial aid. He became agitated when asked about the large withdrawals from...
Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, February 28, 2016

The court heard that Ms Lim, 34, was looking at his bank books when she noticed that large withdrawals had been made, and asked him where the money went.

Tan became agitated, started gesticulating forcefully, and told her that he lent the money to his friends. However, he could not produce any supporting documents.

Ms Lim remained calm and did not do anything to provoke him.

Suddenly, Tan reached across the table and slapped Ms Lim's left cheek, dislodging her spectacles from her face. He then walked over to her side of the table, and punched her on the face.

As she screamed in pain and backed into the corner, Tan repeatedly threw punches at her face and around her neck.

In all, he rained 11 punches on her before a witness rushed in to intervene. Ms Lim, who was found to have sustained contusions on her upper and lower lips, was given four days of medical leave.

While Tan has a history of "schizoaffective disorder", the Institute of Mental Health said in a report that he "was not in relapse at or around the time of the alleged offence".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ruth Teng, seeking a jail sentence of between eight and 10 months, said this was a brutal and senseless attack on a public servant performing her duties.

She added that a clear signal needs to be sent - that such a wanton attack on front-line staff cannot be condoned. The attack was vicious, she said, and it was fortuitous that a witness was present to intervene and stop Tan from causing further hurt to Ms Lim.

While Tan's attack was not premeditated, District Judge John Ng said, it was disproportionate and terrifying to the victim. And it was different from the assaults on law-enforcement officers, who expect to deal with difficult individuals in the course of their duty.

The judge said this was an unprovoked attack against a front-line MSF officer who was not adept at dealing with such assaults.

Tan could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for the offence.

Assault on MSF officer at Social Service Office
MSF officer allegedly assaulted at Social Service Office
Channel NewsAsia, 17 Nov 2015

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has made a police report after one of their officers at a Social Service Office (SSO) was allegedly assaulted, the ministry said on Tuesday (Nov 17).

In a press release, MSF said that on Nov 6, a member of the public visited the SSO@Toa Payoh to apply for financial assistance. The officer was then allegedly assaulted when she was interviewing him to understand his financial situation better.

Assault on MSF officer at Social Service OfficeThe Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has reported to the...
Posted by MSF Singapore on Monday, November 16, 2015

The SSO immediately called the police, and the man was arrested. The officer has since resumed work, after receiving treatment at the hospital for her injuries. MSF, as well as her immediate colleagues, are extending her the necessary support, it said.

Said the ministry: "MSF officers, including those at our SSOs, try our best to serve the public. For people seeking assistance from us, we seek their cooperation so that we can assess their situation and extend the appropriate assistance to them. We value our officers and will not tolerate any form of abuse against them. In instances where our officers are abused in the course of duty, MSF will not hesitate to bring the perpetrators to task."

Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin commented on the incident in a Facebook note on Tuesday: "My officers strive to do their best when they serve the public. Despite the occasional physical and verbal abuse our officers are subjected to, they remain committed and passionate about their cause."

Mr Tan added that while he understands the anxiety of some people the MSF serves, "there is a line that just cannot be crossed".

"I will not tolerate any behaviour by anyone that causes harm to my officers. We will do our utmost to protect them in the course of their duties. I hope that my officers will have your support too as they do their best to serve," Mr Tan said.

It is not easy to be social workers because the nature of the work is trying. But my officers are passionate about the...
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Friday, December 4, 2015

You may have read that MSF has reported to the Police an assault on one of our officers at a Social Service Office. The...
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Monday, November 16, 2015

Following alleged assault of MSF officer, Tan Chuan-Jin urges support for public servants
The staff at Social Service Offices are trained to handle situations involving clients, and there are standard operating procedures in place to take necessary action, says Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.
By Jamie Tan, Channel NewsAsia, 18 Nov 2015

While it is important for the authorities to look out for the safety of public servants, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin on Wednesday (Nov 18) urged the public to show support for them as well.

He was speaking about the alleged assault of a public officer in a Social Service Office (SSO) on Nov 6. The Ministry of Social and Family Development said on Tuesday it has made a police report on the incident.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 15th Sembcorp Marine Books Assistance Grant (SchoolBAG) Presentation Ceremony, Mr Tan added that the staff at SSOs are trained to handle some situations and should anything happen, there are standard operating procedures in place to take the necessary action.

“During an interview, officers are trained to observe the behaviour of their clients so that they are able to de-escalate any situations at an early stage. Should a client become increasingly agitated, our officer would first try to calm him or her down. Depending on the situation, they might end the interview session early and advise the client to return when he/she has settled down. If the client is unable to calm down or leave the service centre, our officer would request for a supervisor to attend to the client. The supervisor would then assess if police assistance is required," explained a spokesperson from the ministry.

MSF also said that physical assaults are uncommon, but officers may at times need to "engage clients who raise their voices or behave threateningly".

"Often, our officers are able to contain the situation. However, in some situations, we will request for police assistance if clients and officers’ safety in the SSO are compromised," the spokesperson said. "We also encourage our officers including front counter officers to attend training on how to engage difficult clients.”

In the ceremony at Yishun Town Secondary School on Wednesday, 1,250 primary, secondary and junior college students received grants ranging from S$150 to S$300. These grants were given to those from needy families, with a household income of less than S$1,500 per capita.

Since 2001, the SchoolBAG programme has benefited 17,500 students through a cumulative grant of S$3.6 million.

In his speech, Mr Tan also said it is important for more companies to give time for their employees to volunteer on a sustained basis.

"From our surveys, we find that one in two employees are actually very keen to play a part in giving back to the community, but we find that only one in five companies actually organise and arrange it," said Mr Tan.

"I think it makes a lot of difference when companies try to initiate it, because corporates have scale, they have an organisational structure, and you can actually work with VWOs, non-profit organisations, and partner them. So, we'd like more companies to participate," he added.

Last month, a Ministry of Social and Family Development officer at a Social Service Office (SSO) was assaulted while...
Posted by The New Paper on Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Some of you may have seen a video recorded in an interview room at Social Service Office@Boon Lay. Here is our...
Posted by MSF Singapore on Friday, December 4, 2015

It is not easy to be social workers because the nature of the work is trying. But my officers are passionate about the...
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Friday, December 4, 2015

He was seeking financial aid but turned aggressive during an interview with the female MSF officer and started hitting her.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

JUST IN: Tan Seng Choon, 56, charged with attacking a 34-year-old female MSF Singapore officer.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

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