By Terry Xu
Michael is a service technician dealing with alcoholic beverage dispensers. For all his life, he had not been involved in any criminal offences except for minor traffic violations. This took a change when he was arrested out of the blue for an offense that he is alleged to have committed and for the past two years, he has been traumatised over the whole incident.
A police report was made in the 4th July 2011 on Micheal by a representative of the company he had worked in. Based on the facts and circumstances of the report, the Police had classified the case as Theft as a Servant, an arrestable offence punishable under Section 381 of the Penal Code. The police then added that it then carried out a through investigation and arrested him on 18th August 2011.
The evidence that the police has alleged that proved Micheal to have committed the crime was a CCTV footage showing him going into the company van and taking out a plastic bag. Micheal shared that it is his daily routine to deposit servicing forms and retrieve items from the van.
Michael added that he was, in fact, arrested on the midnight of 17th August, where he was asked to turn up at a hotel for an urgent maintenance job. He was initially asked to enter in via the front lobby but declined to do so as it is normal practice to enter in via the backdoor as the technicians will need to sign in from there. Upon reaching the carpark, instead of seeing the person who called for the service support, four police officers turned up in place and arrested him on the spot.
Michael also shared that one fellow employee of his former company was present at the point of arrest looking at the whole process of his arrest.
He was then brought to Tanglin Police Headquarters to be detained for the night. In the following morning, he was transferred to the Ang Mo Kio Police Headquarters where the case is first reported.
It was only in the afternoon where the investigation officer questioned him on the case and later brought him out to look for the evidence in the alleged offence.
As seen in the video below, Micheal was bounded on the hands and legs with cuffs and what is not seen is a strap attached to his body by the police to restrain him.
He was paraded around his workplace and his girl friend’s dormitory in search of evidence of the alleged offence. However, no evidence was found that proved his offence. Micheal could not understand the need to apply such preventive measures on him if he is only accused of theft. He was released by the police later that evening.
The parts which were recovered from Michael’s vehicle were parts from Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) and not the parts which the former company has said to be stolen. It was later returned to the company after the investigation. APB itself explained to the police that the parts belonged to them and that Micheal is their appointed contractor to service their equipment.
The other item which was said to be stolen is a blackberry phone alleged by the company, however, when the investigation came to an end, the phone was returned to Michael in March 2012. Michael exclaimed, “If they claimed that the phone belonged to them, then they can just take it.”
It was only after two years that Michael could not bear the memories of his ordeal that he requested for circumstances of his case from the police to be revealed to him. However, he was repeatedly asked to turn up at the Ang Mo Kio police headquarters for a clear explanation. He refused as there would be no black and white documentation of the explanation. He too did not have a copy of his statement in 2011 after it was made.
The police eventually replied Michael’s questions with a written reply.
“At the completion of the investigation and after consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, a decision was taken to administer a stern warning in lieu of prosecution to you for Criminal Breach of Trust as a Servant and Mischief, offences punishable under Sections 408 and 326 of the Penal Code, respectively. The warning was duly served to you on 10 January 2012 by Chief Investigation Officer DSP Gordon Toh.”
A police letter was sent earlier to the reporting company that police investigations have ended and the company is to seek civil redress should they wish to pursue the matter any further.
What seems to be missing from the police’s investigation is that the reporting company had been involved in a civil court case with Michael’s present company just a few months before the report was filed. The wife of the boss in the former company broke away from the company and started her own company. A court case was filed subsequently by the husband, but the case was lost.
What is even more interesting is that the informant shown in the police report, Evelyn Hung is said to be a former police officer stationed in the Ang Mo Kio Police HQ prior to her work in the reporting company.
TOC has tried for the past four months to have the police comment on these aspects of the case but has been repeatedly being rejected on the basis of confidentiality of the case. All corresponding emails between Michael and the police was then forwarded to us for documentation.
So all we know is that the police had issued a stern warning to a person which would be detrimental to a person’s reputation, on the basis of what is seemed to be shaky evidence and an existing conflict of interest between the reporting entity and accused.
Michael’s words on the issue,
“I feel it is very unfair for me in this case. I cannot understand why the police could have dragged me around shackled in front of so many people without any hard evidence. And why was my fellow colluegue present when the police arrested me at the hotel. Was he being asked to show up at the arrest or did he give information that I was there. Couldn’t the police called me to turn up at the police station if they wanted my assistance?
If the police really feel that I am guilty, they can just arrest me. But if I am not, I would like to have an apology from the police. If the police feels that they are not in the wrong, then the people making the report should be looked into. This is Singapore and there shouldn’t be injustice like this happening.”
Till date, he has no answers to the manner of how he was treated by the police and why he was being issued a warning for an offense that he firmly insists he had not committed.
A final troubling question bugs the writer is there anything that could stop a person to falsely accuse a person of an offence? Given that there would be no repercussion if neither the police nor the accused can disprove the accusation.