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It’s one year – Since police confiscated electronic devices for cooling off day investigation

by Teo Soh Lung

At about this time, last year (31 May 2016) I was escorted in a police vehicle from the Police Cantonment Complex to my home. Four plain clothes officers guarded. Arriving at my estate's front gate, the barrier automatically lifted. I understand that police vehicles are allowed automatic access to all private estates. The security guards do not enquire about the intent of their visits and they are free to roam wherever they want. (This policy has since been changed, at least in my estate).

At the carpark of my block, another police vehicle had arrived either earlier of at about the same time. Four plain clothes officers introduced themselves as the forensic team. I was like a big time criminal who required eight police officers to escort me to my little flat. Fortunately for me, my friends had arrived earlier and they all trooped into my flat. The presence of my friends probably discouraged the officers from ransacking my entire flat for computers and electronic devices.

In over an hour, the police left with my laptop, new mobile phone and my CPU from my desktop. They did not require me to return to the police station as originally planned. It was likely that they did not want my friends to rush to the station where Roy Ngerng who was brought there after they had seized his properties from his home. He was there to give them the passwords to his computers and mobile phone.

It's been exactly a year since the unnecessary police raid and seizure of my properties. I say unnecessary because I did not deny the postings on my personal facebook on Cooling Off Day. My defence was and is that I have a constitutional right to do what I did. There was therefore no need to seize my properties to confirm those postings. What the police really wanted was information in my computers and mobile phone. I am very sure that they have duplicated the entire hard disks and sim card of my computers and mobile phone.

In February this year, the police informed me that they would return my properties but I was to be given a stern warning. I told them that I don't need their warning. I am a senior citizen and had not committed any wrong. Why should I be warned by a twenty something officer for offences which I did not commit? If the police think that they have a case against me, charge me in court. I will be happy to attend an open trial.

I told them to return my properties to my lawyers. My lawyers offered to collect the properties on my behalf. However, I am required to give the police an authorisation, (which is not a problem) and a confirmation that my properties are in a "workable condition" (which I object). How would my lawyers know if my properties are in a "workable condition". They are not forensic experts!

So my properties remain in the custody of the police and I have not received a "stern warning".

The police should return my properties without any condition. Indeed, they should undertake payment of damages and costs should I subsequently find my properties unusable or require repair and retrieval services because of their tamperings, mishandling and disuse in their warehouse.

The police have intruded into my privacy by accessing my computers and mobile phone. They have greatly inconvenienced me and I was put to expense. I had to purchase a new computer and a mobile phone. Am I not entitled to compensation and have my properties returned to wherever I instruct them to deliver to?