Spat between NRI and security guard captured online goes viral in Singapore

In the latest development in an internet saga that has gripped the nation, the security team at Eight Riversuites condominium has been replaced. 

The private housing estate was in the media spotlight over the past week after a JP Morgan employee and non-resident Indian (NRI) Ramesh Erramalli was captured on video verbally abusing an elderly security officer.

However, Security Association Singapore (SAS) said on Friday, November 1, that the change in the security team at Eight Riversuites condominium has nothing to do with the altercation. “SAS understands that the contract had been terminated prior to the incident and that it is unrelated to the incident,” SAS executive director Ikhsan Suri told Channel News Asia.

According to a report by TODAY, the services of KH Security had already been terminated one month ago with notice following complaints from residents.

The viral video

Over the weekend of Deepavali, a video was uploaded online showing 44-year-old NRI Ramesh Erramalli – who, according to media reports, is a Singaporean – verbally abusing an elderly security officer at Eight Riversuites.

In the video, Erramalli can be heard hurling vulgarities at the security guard over a condominium rule requiring guests to pay SGD 10 for parking after 11 pm. He was seen pointing a finger at the elderly man, saying that he bought the condominium for SGD 1.5 million and that they were not in an Housing Development Board.

A police report was lodged by the security officer against Erramalli for an "offence of intentionally causing harassment”. However, subsequently Erramalli had on last Wednesday apologised “many times” to said security officer Steven Heng during an hour-long meeting, according to the Association of Certified Security Agencies (ACSA). He was “very remorseful”, and Heng has forgiven him wholeheartedly, ACSA said.

The internet justice mob

As the video quickly went viral, the internet justice mob was swiftly activated.

Many online users slammed the behaviour of Erramalli, while praising the composed way the elderly security guard handled the situation. Meanwhile, Erramalli's personal information was widely shared online. There were speculations as to whether he was a new citizen. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement that Erramalli is “married to a local-born Singapore citizen”, and that he had “obtained his Singapore citizenship on the sponsorship of his wife, under the Family Ties scheme”.

Other netizens have also called on Erramalli's company, JP Morgan, to fire him. Hostile comments posted on social media condemned not just the actions of Erramalli, but also the integrity of JP Morgan for the nature of its employees. The public anger had stemmed from the bigger picture of foreign talent influx into Singapore, with many questioning JP Morgan's policy of hiring employees without properly screening them. 

Minister weighs in

Singapore's Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam also weighed in on the incident, saying that Erramalli's actions and words were wrong on "so many levels". 

In a Facebook post, Shanmugaratnam added that what he said and did were "examples of modern-day bigotry and a sense of entitlement that the light of Deepavali seeks to dispel". 

However, the minister cautioned against unleashing the internet lynch mob on Erramalli, saying, "we should absolutely avoid threatening or harassing the resident concerned". 

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