Photos of a crowd of food delivery riders surrounding Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam began circulating on social media, yesterday (5 Nov) – the same day that a permanent ban on the use of Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) on public footpaths took effect.
Following a spate of PMD-related accidents, the Government announced on Monday (4 Nov) that all e-scooters will be banned from public footpaths and that e-scooter riders may now only use their PMDs on cycling and park connector network paths.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA), a statutory board under the Ministry of Transport, will issue a warning to those who flout the ban between 5 Nov to 31 Dec – a grace period during which the Government will waive heftier penalties as PMD riders adjust to the ban. From 1 Jan 2020, those caught riding e-scooters on public footpaths will face fines of up to S$2,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three months.
The sudden ban concerned some who felt that it would pose difficulties for food delivery riders who rely on PMDs to get their jobs done.
Yesterday evening, photos uploaded to Facebook showed Minister Shanmugam surrounded by a crowd of food delivery riders during his Meet-The-People session near Block 107 Yishun Ring Road. Some photos showed over a dozen PMDs parked nearby.
Mr Shanmugam has since revealed that about 30 PMD riders approached him at his Meet the People session and that it was he who wished to meet all of them at the open area outside his branch office to better hear their concerns. He wrote on Facebook:
“About 30 PMD riders came to see me at my Meet-the-People Session. I met three of them in my Branch office. I then asked to meet the others as well, since they had all come. I met them in an open area outside my Branch. As it was an open area, I told them to come closer around me so that we can hear each other better.”
Revealing that he listened to the PMD riders’ concerns during the “good, civil meeting” and that he promised to convey their concerns to the Ministry of Transport and the Cabinet, Mr Shanmugam assured the riders that he will also call for another meeting:
“I explained the reasons for the move on PMDs. They explained their position, their difficulties. I said we understood their position, but I would also convey their views to MOT, and to Cabinet. The riders were appreciative. It was a good, civil meeting. I also told them that I will call for another meeting.”
At the meeting, Mr Shanmugam noticed someone taking photos of the crowd and identified him as Edmund Loke – an individual who did not seem to be part of the PMD group and someone who had, in fact, created an online petition calling on the authorities to ban PMDs.
Opining that Edmund Loke seemed to want to portray the meeting as though the Minister had been ambushed by the PMD riders, Mr Shanmugam called such conduct “sneaky and unnecessary”. He wrote:
“At the session, we noticed that someone was standing behind the group and taking photos, not sure if he was also recording . We knew who he was – Edmund Loke. It later came to our attention that he had posted the photo on FB, and then took it down.
“He had previously posted an online petition calling for a ban on PMDs. He didn’t seem to be part of the PMD group, but seems to have intended to convey an impression of the meeting which is quite inaccurate – that in some way I was ambushed by the PMD riders, and they surrounded me.
“Such conduct is both sneaky and unnecessary, when we try and deal with issues in good faith. We know he is a supporter of a political party.”