In a statement on Tuesday (14 Mar) the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said it refutes allegations put forth by activist and blogger Han Hui Hui in her writing, that she has been mistreated in the State and High Courts cells, labelling them as ‘baseless and false’.
MHA referred to Ms Han’s article ‘Alone in cell’, which had been published on her blog on 23 Feb and was also posted on her Facebook on 25 Feb.
Ms Han was convicted on 27 June 2016 and fined $2,500 because she ‘rallied her Facebook readers’, and $600 because she made ‘vitriolic speeches to denounce the government and various government policies’.
Her appeal to the High Court was rejected on 22 Feb 2017 and she was sent to prison on the same day for failing to pay the fine. In the article, Ms Han, 24, had described the sequence of her experience in the cells on 22 Feb.
MHA said that on investigating Ms Han’s allegation the Singapore Prisons Service (SPS) has questioned the relevant officers and examined the CCTV footage and documents related to her custody in the cell.
MHA addressed five allegations that Ms Han wrote in her article:
- Ms Han was not subjected to a strip search, she has been searched by a female officer and remained clothed for the entire process;
- Her claims that male officers had walked past by while she was being searched are untrue. She was based in the women’s wing of the cell, which is not accessible to male officers. A privacy screen is also used when a search in progress;
- Her allegation that Malaysian Auxiliary Police Officers (APOs) had made disparaging comments against Singaporeans is unfounded. The team supervising the lock-up consists of prisons officers supported by both Singaporean and Malaysian APOs;
- Her allegation that inmates were not given toiletries after relieving themselves was also untrue. Toilet paper is made available to detainees upon request.
- Ms Han was provided with lunch during her temporary custody.
MHA said in the statement, “Ms Han could have raised the issues at any time while she was in custody and the SPS would have looked into it.”
“However, she chose not to do so. Instead, she chose to publish the fabricated, false and misleading accounts on social media,” it said.
“MHA takes all allegations seriously and will investigate them thoroughly.”
“However, we will also vigorously defend our officers from baseless attacks to ensure that the integrity of our law enforcement agencies is not undermined,” MHA stated.