SINGAPORE: After trying to buy soya milk for his wife but being turned away from three shops because he was not wearing a mask, a man lost his temper at a minimart supervisor who stopped him from buying the beverage.
In a tirade caught on video, 53-year-old Mohamed Ali Ramly cursed at the supervisor, saying: "Eh you Chinese ah. F***ing hell man. All the virus come from you guys la. F*** you Chinese la you."
He was fined S$4,000 on Wednesday (Dec 9) for three charges of not wearing a mask, wounding racial feelings and using abusive words to cause alarm.
The court heard that Ali, who pleaded guilty, had left his house on his bicycle on Apr 17 to buy soya milk but forgot to wear a mask.
He visited three shops and was turned away because he did not have a mask. When he got to Li Li Cheng minimart at Block 651, Jurong West Street 61, Ali picked up a 1-litre carton of soya milk and tried to buy it.
The victim, a 32-year-old Chinese national on cashier duty, apologetically told him that he could not buy it as he had no mask on.
Ali grew agitated and began verbally abusing the victim, who was the minimart supervisor. The victim was alarmed and filmed Ali's actions. Ali was shown exclaiming and pointing his middle finger at the victim, asking the victim's "f***ing president to go to hell man".
He continued swearing at the victim, saying "all the virus come from you guys la".
When the supervisor told him that she would upload the video, Ali lamented that he had merely forgotten his mask and wanted to buy the milk. He returned the milk and cycled home.
A day after, a member of the public lodged a police report after watching the uploaded video.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Kee asked for a fine of S$4,000, saying that Ali's "extended tirade" was unprovoked and uncalled for.
"It is undisputed that COVID-19 has brought about untold hardships on the public at large," he said, adding that it is often easy to feel discontent at the situation.
"It is, however, unhelpful and counterproductive to blame any country (for) the virus," he said.
HE FORGOT HIS MASK: DEFENCE
Defence lawyer Yamuna Balakrishnan said her client had hurried to get a drink for his wife on the day of the incident as she had bodily pains and he forgot to wear his mask.
After failing to get it from three shops, he went to the minimart and tried to rush out, pleading for understanding, but was ignored by the victim.
"Due to that moment of losing his temper, it resulted in those acts," she said. "Our client is extremely remorseful and pleading guilty today. He even apologised on that very minute, respectfully said 'thank you' and left the shop. He regrets his actions and takes full responsibility."
She added that Ali is a musician whose income is based on live performances. Due to the pandemic, his income has been completely eradicated.
His wife was a nurse at a hospital but cannot work because of an injury she suffered and is under unpaid leave and has been asked to resign.
"Mr Ali is the only one supporting her hospital bills and also taking care of her," said Ms Balakrishnan. "At the current state, they have no income at all and are supporting themselves with savings."
She added that Ali had a teenage son about to enter tertiary education.
After hearing the sentence, she asked if Ali could pay S$3,000 upfront and the balance later, as he brought only S$3,000 with him to court. The judge granted this.
For uttering words with the deliberate intention of wounding racial feelings, Ali could have been jailed for up to three years, fined, or both.
He could have been jailed for up to six months, fined S$10,000, or both for not wearing a mask properly while outside his home.
For using abusive words, he could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$5,000 or both.