SINGAPORE — After being turned away from three shops for not wearing a mask, a man entered a minimart and verbally abused an employee who refused to serve him, telling her that “the virus” came “from you guys”.
Mohamed Ali Ramly, a 53-year-old Singaporean, was fined $4,000 on Wednesday (9 December) after he pleaded guilty to one count each of using abusive words towards the employee, wounding her racial feelings, and failing to wear a mask over his nose.
Singapore entered a partial lockdown on 7 April. All individuals were required to don a mask while in public spaces, with some exceptions, from 14 April.
On 17 April 2020, Ali left his residence on a bicycle intending to buy soya milk from a nearby shop. He left his home without wearing a mask, and cycled to the central area in Pioneer.
Ali visited three shops but was turned away because he was not wearing a mask. He later stopped by the Li Li Cheng Minimart, where the victim, Chinese national Wang Jian, was on duty as a cashier.
After picking up a one-litre carton of soya milk and attempting to buy it from Wang, the victim said in broken English, “Sorry, no mask cannot”, to convey that she was unable to serve Ali.
Ali became agitated and began verbally abusing the victim.
Sensing Ali’s agitation, Wang became alarmed and decided to use her mobile phone to record his actions in a video that lasted for 19 seconds. Her actions spurred Ali to exclaim, “what the f**k man” before proceeding to make a rude gesture at the victim and saying, “eh f**k you la. Ask your f**king president to go to hell man.”
Wang replied that she would upload the video on Facebook, prompting Ali to lament that he had merely forgotten to bring his mask and only wanted to buy a single item.
He then said: “Eh you Chinese ah. F**king hell man. All the virus come from you guys la. F**k you Chinese la you”, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. He repeated the rude gesture.
After his tirade, the accused returned the carton of soya milk before cycling home. The incident was captured in a video, which went viral after it was posted online.
Ali’s lawyer, Yamuna Balakrishnan, said that on the day of the incident, Ali had hurried to get a drink for his wife, who was in pain. When he went to Li Li Cheng Minimart, he tried to rush through his purchase and pleaded for understanding but was ignored by Wang.
He lost his temper at that moment, and is now extremely remorseful, said the lawyer.
Ali is the sole breadwinner of his family and was a musician whose income was based on live performances. Since the pandemic, his income has been “completely eradicated”, said the lawyer.
His wife was a nurse in a hospital but was unable to work due to an injury and has been asked to resign.
“At the current state, they have no income at all and are supporting themselves with savings. He has a 17-year-old son about to enter tertiary education,” added the lawyer, who asked for a $2,300 fine.
For not wearing a mask, Ali could have been fined up to $10,000 or jailed up to six months, or both. For using abusive words, he could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to $5,000 or both. For wounding racial feelings, he could have been jailed up to three years, or fined, or both.
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