Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For causing annoyance, obstruction or danger to the public

Man furious when bicycle parked at library walkway is locked by staff, says: PATH IS WIDE ENOUGH
But library replies: IT SHOULD BE LEFT AT BIKE BAY
By Mindy Tan
March 19, 2008,4136,159550,00.html?


THE standoff had simmered for some time.

Click to see larger image
The walkway of the National Library at Victoria Street where Mr Bin's bicycle was locked on Saturday by library employees. It was the second time his bike had been locked up.

A man insisted on parking his bicycle at a pedestrian walkway at the National Library's Plaza at Victoria Street despite repeated warnings not to.

It all came to a head on Saturday, when National Library Board (NLB) staff secured the man's bicycle by chaining it to a railing after he again parked it on the walkway at 3.15pm.

When he returned about three hours later and found his bicycle chained up, he threw a fit.

He argued with an NLB security officer and when he made no headway, he decided to exact his own tit-for-tat revenge.

While screaming at the officer, the man, who was wearing a red T-shirt and shorts, decided to lock up the library's entrance.

He put his bicycle chain around the steel handles of the library's glass doors and locked it, refusing to undo the lock until NLB staff 'released' his bicycle.

The standoff ended only when the NLB called the police at around 6.45pm.

When the police arrived, the man unlocked his bicycle chain and NLB staff removed the chain from his bicycle.

In an e-mail reply, an NLB spokesman said it was the second time it had chained the man's bicycle for parking indiscriminately at the thoroughfare.

The NLB identified him as Mr Bin Hee Heng.

Click to see larger image
Mr Bin, speaking to the police and another official on Saturday. Pictures: LIANHE WANBAO

Of Saturday's drama, the spokesman said: 'He shouted at our security officer that he had the permission of NLB management to park his bicycle there, but this was not the case.'

The NLB added that its security staff had cautioned Mr Bin about his bike as early as March last year, telling him to leave it the designated bicycle bay facing Bain Street.

The spokesman said: 'There are sufficient lots available at the bay and they are usually not fully occupied.'

By Mr Bin's own admission to Lianhe Wanbao, it was not the first time he had left his bicycle along the pedestrian pathway.

His rationale was: 'The pathway is so wide, my bicycle is not obstructing anyone.'

But the NLB took a different view.

'Parking bicycles indiscriminately at the building premises can pose safety issues to the public and we seek the cooperation of the public to use the designated bicycle bay,' its spokesman said.

The man claimed to Lianhe Wanbao that his many e-mails to the NLB management presenting his point of view had gone unanswered.

According to NLB, Mr Bin had, on several occasions, parked his bicycle at the pedestrian railing next to the pathway of the National Library building facing Middle Road.

He had also parked his bicycle at various other non-designated areas in the building premises.

He allegedly turned a deaf ear when staff asked him to leave his bicycle at the racks provided and also ignored the repeated reminders and warnings issued to him.

NLB said of Saturday's ruckus: 'Our staff explained the action taken and that we would need his cooperation to park at the bicycle bay in future.

'Mr Bin refused and proceeded to use his bicycle chain to lock one of the entrance doors to the building.

'He demanded that the security officer... unlock his bicycle before he would do the same to the building entrance.

'At this point, our staff had to call the police in to intervene.'

Mr Bin told Lianhe Wanbao: 'I locked the library's doors purely to show my displeasure, but once the police arrived, I removed my chain.'


In the meantime, affected library users had to use another door.

A passer-by, Ms Gao Yanling, felt that Mr Bin's behaviour was unwarranted.

She said: 'Even though there were other doors, the public would have one exit fewer if there had been an emergency.'

Lawyer Sunil Sudheesan, of KhattarWong, said the man could be charged with public nuisance, under Section 268 of the Penal Code, for causing annoyance, obstruction or danger to the public.

Such an act may be punished with a fine of up to $1,000.

Mr Sunil added: 'We must first ask if NLB had a right to chain Mr Bin's bicycle.

'An appropriate NLB action would be to contact the police first, given his consistent disregard for their warnings.

'But some may argue that this would have been too draconian.

'On Mr Bin's part, locking up the doors of the library is wrong. He clearly had no right to close the doors of the library the way he did.

'I think it is a shame that matters escalated to such an extent.'

When contacted, the police confirmed they received a call about a man creating public nuisance.

They said both parties were advised to settle the matter peacefully and they complied.

The NLB spokesman said: 'While the library is a public place, the public is expected to observe the rules in place and to cooperate with our staff and security officers on the use of the library and building premises for the safety and convenience of all users.'
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