In a forum letter published by the Straits Times on Tuesday (29 Oct), security supervisor Sivarajah Nathan said that the main problem security guards who encounter abuse face is “the condominium management”.
Pointing to the recent case in which a condo resident hurled vulgarities and berated hapless security guards who simply told the resident that his guests need to pay parking fees as per the condo rules, Mr Sivarajah said: “As a security supervisor, I have encountered such humiliation, had vulgarities hurled at me and even been issued threats to get me out of the workplace.”
Mr Sivarajah said that the main problem guards usually face, however, is the condo management. Noting that the management is “afraid of the residents,” he said:
“When an incident arises, instead of calling the resident and investigating the case, the management issues a warning letter to the security officer or even takes him out of the assignment.
“The condo managing agent is afraid to lose its job and takes the shortcut. Agencies that employ us do not bother to offer any assistance and simply transfer the security officer in an incident to another site. These agencies seem to want only to collect their monthly income from the Management Corporation Strata Title.”
Asking what is the purpose of the condo committee since council members “distance themselves” and do not assist when security guards are harassed, Mr Sivarajah said that the police also offer little help, often advising guards to bring up the matter to the condo management since altercations take place in private properties.
Calling on the authorities to help security officers work in a safe environment, Mr Sivarajah said: “I would like the police, the security union and security associations to come up with concrete measures to help security officers work in an environment without humiliation or harassment.”
On Friday night (25 Oct), a video of a man verbally abusing a hapless security officer went viral on social media. In the incident, which reportedly took place at the Eight Riversuites condominium in Bendemeer, the man hurled vulgarities at the elderly guard after being told that guests visiting his condominium needed to pay parking fees.
Despite the security guards’ explanation that they are simply enforcing the rules, the condo resident continued to berate the workers. In his expletive-ridden rant, the man bragged to the security officers that he bought his condominium unit for S$1.5 million. He exclaimed: “I buy your f****** property for S$1.5 million you know.”
Netizens subsequently identified the condo resident as Ramesh Erramalli, an India-born naturalised Singapore citizen who works at global financial services company JP Morgan in Singapore.
As the video went viral, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam publicly slammed the condo resident’s “sense of entitlement” and praised the security officer for dealing with the situation in a dignified and professional manner. He wrote on Facebook:
“What this resident did and said was wrong — at so many levels. It is these examples of modern-day bigotry and a sense of entitlement that the light of Deepavali seeks to dispel.”
Labour MPs Zainal Sapari and Patrick Tay also urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to consider covering all private security officers under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), regardless of their worksite. POHA currently does not cover security officers working in condos and private establishments since they are not considered public service workers.
The Union of Security Employees and two security agency associations also came out to condemn the condo resident’s rash behaviour.
Irate Singaporeans are JP Morgan to sack the condo resident and have him deported back to India, in the wake of the incident. A petition calling on JP Morgan to terminate Ramesh’s employment has garnered over 30,000 signatures on change.org: