According to news reports, a freelance filmmaker spent close to eight hours at the Singapore police headquarters in connection with her recent interviews with two ex-SMRT bus drivers from China (http://sg.news.yahoo.com/s-pore-film-maker-assists-with-investigation-into-police-brutality-173326960.html). Her iMac, mobile phone and laptop were also similarly seized.
I question the relevance of this search. Lynn Lee is a journalist and a documentary maker. It is her job to conduct interviews with individuals who the public will be interested in. The bus drivers were embroiled in the recent transportation furore and have alleged that the police assaulted them. Given that these men have generated much controversy, which involves two public departments – the transportation services and the police, Singaporeans are naturally curious. (http://ride.asiaone.com/news/transport/story/former-smrt-drivers-allege-police-assault) Added to that very understandable inquisitiveness is the right of all Singaporeans to hear both sides of the story.
Lee’s desire to speak with the bus drivers to get their version of events is therefore in line with her profession and public interest. All the efforts and time spent on seemingly investigating her appears to me to be a waste of police time and public resources. If the police are trying to investigate the allegations of assault, shouldn’t they be speaking to the persons involved directly? I.e. the police officers implicated and the bus drivers themselves! Why question a third party journalist who was not at the “scene of the crime”?
Perhaps the police merely wanted to ascertain that the bus drivers did make these allegations in her presence and wanted to take her statement. But surely, that would not take 8 hours? Besides, why confiscate her mobile phone?
This is not the first time the police have apparently been overzealous. In 2005, they quizzed filmmaker Martyn See on his film about opposition politician, Dr. Chee Soon Juan. They even ordered for his tapes and video camera to be surrendered! (link) Again, what was the point of going after a filmmaker who was just trying to make a documentary on an individual who Singaporeans are intrigued by? Surely, Singaporeans are entitled to hear Dr. Chee’s side of the story?
As a Singaporean, I wonder if the police force (funded by taxpayers) should be spending our resources on these rather pointless exercises?
Surely, the police have better things to do?