COVID: Father, son fined $3,000 each for berating NEA officer at Yuhua food centre

·Senior Reporter
·2-min read
Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre (Screenshot: Google Street View)
Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre (Screenshot: Google Street View)

SINGAPORE — A hawker at Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre was seated on a marked seat when an enforcement officer with the National Environment Agency (NEA) approached him to ask him to wear his mask properly.

Unhappy, Seah Kian Huat, 64, raised his voice and verbally abused the officer. His son, Roger Seah Hong Chiat, 40, who was helping out at his father’s stall, heard the commotion and joined in the tirade against the officer.

The Seahs were each fined $3,000 on Monday (22 November) after they pleaded guilty to one count of using abusive words on a public servant, with another count of a similar nature considered for their sentencing.

At the time of the offences, the older Seah was an owner of a food stall at Block 254 Jurong East Street 24, Yuhua Village Market. 

On 21 August this year, the NEA officer was at the market to ensure compliance with COVID-19 safe distancing measures along with a colleague. He spotted the older Seah and another man sitting and facing each other. There was a cup of coffee on the table but neither man was drinking. Both had their masks pulled down to their chins.

After observing this, the officer approached the men to ask them to wear their masks, and ask them not to sit on the marked seats. 

While Seah complied, he became unhappy and raised his voice, insisting that he was waiting for his food to arrive, and that he was going to drink his coffee. He also used profanities on the officer.

Roger, who heard the commotion, stepped out to ask what happened. He joined in the dispute and used vulgarities on the officer as well. He told the officer and his colleague that he would make them suffer.

The officer then called the police.

In mitigation, Roger said that his business was not doing well and asked for a lighter fine.

His father said that he was about to begin his dialysis treatment and needed the money. He added that he was unable to work and also asked for a lighter fine.

For the offence of using abusive words on a public servant, each could have been jailed up to a year, or fined up to $5,000, or both. 

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