Enforcement action against man staying in East Coast Park shelter was 'last resort': NParks
Jackson Chan turned down repeated offers of help and was preventing other parkgoers from using the shelter, says the National Parks Board.
SINGAPORE: Enforcement action had to be taken as a "last resort" after a man staying in an East Coast Park shelter declined repeated offers of assistance and continued to deprive other parkgoers of its use, said the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Saturday (Jun 10).
Jackson Chan Kian Leng, 46, was charged on May 30 for residing in a public park without a licence and for smoking under a park shelter. He was sentenced to four days in jail after being unable to pay a fine of S$1,400 (US$1,042).
In a joint response to media queries, NParks and MSF said authorities were first alerted to Chan's situation back in June 2020.
He was offered shelter but declined and was "resistant to any form of assistance", said the agencies, who noted that Chan appeared to be in good health.
In April 2021, MSF engaged him again but he refused to provide contact details or consent to be referred to social service agencies.
Subsequently, during Singapore's COVID-19 Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period from the middle to end of 2021, Chan was seen staying at the East Coast Park shelter, despite it being cordoned off and closed to the public.
This led to him being issued six composition notices from December 2021 to April 2022.
"Chan was not cooperative, was hostile towards the officers who spoke to him, and had also splashed a pail of water on a security officer who was patrolling the park," said NParks and MSF.
He was informed in August 2022 that further enforcement action would be taken if he did not vacate the shelter.
But Chan continued to occupy the shelter throughout the day, despite NParks' repeated efforts - up to May this year - to speak with him and to connect him with relevant agencies.
He also informed NParks officers that he had a home in Singapore, a point he later repeated in court.
MSF said it has been working with the Partners Engaging and Empowering Rough Sleepers (PEERS) Network, which includes community groups, to engage and befriend rough sleepers.
MSF defines "rough sleepers” as people sleeping in public spaces, and "homeless" as those without access to adequate housing.
A nationwide, single-night street count conducted by the ministry in November last year found that Singapore's rough sleeping population had shrunk by about 40 per cent, to 530, since a previous study in 2019.
"For those who are willing to be assisted, we have supported their needs through befriending and outreach, coordinated case support and provision of shelter," said MSF on Saturday.
Members of the public who encounter rough sleepers who need support or shelter can either email PEERS at MSF_PEERSOffice [at] msf.gov.sg, call ComCare at 1800-222-0000 or use the "Help Neighbour" feature on the OneService app.