Singapore—Writer Wesley Wee, who has cerebral palsy, was mistaken for a beggar last Sunday (Nov 22) by security guards at Tangs, who chased him out of the establishment, according to a report from Lianhe Wanbao.
Tangs has since expressed its regrets toward Mr Wee for the unfortunate experience and has said it carried out an investigation into the matter.
Mr Wee, 40, who wrote his life story in a book called “Finding happiness against the odds” last year had previously worked as a tissue vendor. He had gone to Tangs to purchase some items. He first stopped at a pop-up booth in front of the establishment but was ignored by the vendor there when he tried to buy something.
Because cerebral palsy has made his speech difficult to understand, Mr Wee went to a pair of cashiers for assistance, having typed out what he needed.
One cashier turned him away outright, without even reading his request. The other told him they do not use the payment method he preferred (Paylah), and offered an apology.
At that point, a security officer said to Mr Wee in a loud voice, “Don’t ask the people here for money!”
When he tried to explain the situation, he said that the officer merely tried to get him to leave, and did not even listen to his explanation.
The officer allegedly followed him out of Tangs, saying, “Don’t disturb people here.”
Mr Wee then sent a message to Lorena, his wife, to let her know about the incident. She enlisted the aid of a friend who happened to be in the area as well.
But when the friend arrived at Tangs, the security officer had gone, and so had the staff who had been at the pop-up booths. Mr Wee’s friend told the woman who was there what happened, and she relayed the incident to one of the store managers as well their head of security.
The manager and the head of security then apologised to Mr Wee.
In an update to Mr Wee’s story, AsiaOne reported that it understood that it had been crowd control concerns that caused the security officer to ask Mr Wee to leave the place where he had been talking to the cashiers by the pop-up booths.
A representative of the department store told AsiaOne that its security staff regularly ensures that shoppers maintain social distancing safety measures, especially during weekends when there are more people, and therefore a need for bigger security staff.
According to the officer, he did not follow Mr Wee when he went into Tangs but asked a crowd that had gathered nearby to go their separate ways.
Because of the crowd, the officer spoke in a loud voice.
“We understand how it could have been read as rudeness,” said the representative from Tangs. “We have since spoken to not just our security team, but to remind all frontline employees to ensure that they treat all customers with dignity and respect.” —/TISG