TRS co-founder shares personal experience at State Court lock-up, in response to allegations made by Han Hui Hui

Yang Kaiheng, co-founder of now-defunct sociopolitical site The Real Singapore (TRS) posted on his Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon in response to the news about the rebuttal issued by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) towards allegations made by activist and blogger, Ms Han Hui Hui.

Mr Yang was earlier sentenced to eight months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to six sedition charges.

In its statement to the press, MHA addressed five allegations that Ms Han wrote in her article:

  1. Ms Han was not subjected to a strip search, she has been searched by a female officer and remained clothed for the entire process;
  2. 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;
  3. 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;
  4. Her allegation that inmates were not given toiletries after relieving themselves was also untrue. Toilet paper is made available to detainees upon request.
  5. Ms Han was provided with lunch during her temporary custody.

Summarising his own experience at the state court prison, Mr Yang wrote that he hope that his post can clear the air on some of Ms Han’s “allegations”  about her treatment at the State court lock up.

Below is the five points written by Mr Yang of his personal experience at the State court lock up

1) Strip Searching
I was only strip searched once at the State Court lock up in the basement during the evening before I was transported to Changi Prison. The officers were professional in explaining what is the purpose of the strip search to everyone and reemphasized that it is not their purpose to humiliate us but to ensure the safety of everyone in the cells. I was quite shy at first but got used to it over the following few months as we have to strip butt naked everyday before going down for yard. Anyway, because of this experience I finally overcome my fear of being naked with strangers at the Onsen in Japan haha!

2) Food
I was given a packet of mixed vegetable rice sometime around noon at the court lockup. The food was handed to me properly by the AETOS officers and it was a packet of lemon sauce fish fillet, sliced white cabbage and rice. I thought the food was pretty decent and the rice was cooked al-dente. In fact, it could even beat some of the sticky, glue-like rice served in some bad coffeeshop mixed vegetable rice stalls outside.

3) Male and Female segregation
All female inmates were locked up completely separately in another area and there are no male officers there. Even the transportation of male and female prisoners is done separately. During strip search, a giant curtain is drawn and I don’t think anyone could have seen me naked other than the officer conducting the strip search and a few other fellow inmates beside me. There is practically zero interaction between males and females in the lock-up and in prison, whether it be inmate-inmate or officer-inmate. Where there are officers of the opposite gender it is definitely not during strip searches.

4) Toilet
What Ms Han Hui Hui said about no toilet paper and tissue given during State Court lock up is totally true. I requested for toilet paper but the officer told me that they don’t actually provide tissue in lock up as this is only a temporary stay location and you will be transferred to Changi or be released on bail in a few hours time. He suggested that I wash myself with the water which comes out of a little hole in the wall beside the toilet bowl. That is the first time in my adult life when I shit then used water to wash… I have to admit, it felt pretty good and so much cleaner than wiping with toilet paper.

5) Officer Treatment of Inmates
All the officers I encountered at lock up seems to be professionally trained and know how to communicate effectively with inmates of all nationalities. I do admit, most of the AETOS officers I encountered were Malaysians with only the older officers being Singaporeans. But hey, don’t complain so much la, Malaysians are just like us Singaporeans yo. I did actually encounter a young AETOS officer who made fun of the minorities in particular the Bangladeshi people who mostly overstayed their visa in Singapore. However, most of these negative teasing limits only to laughing at them for not being able to speak and understand english, referring foreigners as “aliens” and did not go any further into any other form of verbal abuse. Aiya, but c’mon la these officers don’t have diploma or degree in hospitality and tourism so you can’t actually set such a high standard for them anyway right? To be fair, I’ve also seen some very caring prison officers who will provide words of encouragement to some ‘freaked out” detainees who are extremely worried about their family outside or what will eventually happen to them.

All that said, I am also quite impressed that not a single word of vulgarities was heard from the officers during my entire lock-up and prison experience despite some inmates constantly hurling vulgarities at the officers.


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