The below is a letter submitted to The Online Citizen
By Sum Wee Lee
I refer to the ongoing saga of the most unfortunate loss of a secondary 3 student after being interviewed and possibly, coerced by the State’s police into making a confession without any Guardian or Counsel around to dispense advise. More so when an individual is under 18 years of age.
I would like to share a perspective I observed while exiting Bugis MRT last Wednesday at about 9.30pm. I witnessed 6 policemen rounding up a skinny middle-aged Chinese guy for no apparent reason. They then proceeded to restraint him to the parapet ledge near the Station Control and begin to search him. All these were done in plain sight of the curious onlooking public. I felt compelled to take a video or at least a photo of the manner which the incident transpired but was spotted by 1 of the policemen who threatened to seize my phone and detain me citing the “public order act”.
Now puzzled, I wonder what really constitutes a “public order” incident as I merely wanted to generate photographic evidence to present to the public service commission and ask them if they agreed that police be rendered such extensive powers to humiliate a member of the public under the guise of security. As it turned out, there was nothing and the man was freed grudgingly.
The current uneven playing field of our politics and law should be a cause for concern to every citizen. Today its Benjamin, tomorrow, it might be your Jimmy, John or Joseph a brother, cousin or even classmate. I felt it’s compulsory that the “public order act” be scrutinized in light of Benjamin’s death as far too much power is given to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) without any justification and abuses to the system will become more rampant as the government turns to the “war on terror” as the basis for such powers which is a different case and context altogether.
I distinctively remembered then NCMP Ms Sylvia Lim opposing the “public order bill“, which she felt “will actually become the source of public order problems”. Remember, the more oppressive a regime, the more violent it shall be overthrown. E.g. Myanmar and soon to be neighboring Malaysia, not to mention the “Arab Spring”.
I hope society as a whole together with our honorable members of Parliament will in coming weeks, search their conscience and ask if this was what the voters had in mind when they mandated the ruling party to govern with such autocratic and iron fist that is now extended even to our ignorant youths and minors. We must press MHA to come clean on Benjamin’s needless death and not allow them to hide under the shroud of “Official Secret Act (OSA)” which must be torn down by us sooner or later.