by Danisha Hakeem and Beiyuan
In a letter to the Editor on 18 June 2018, a full-time National Serviceman (NSF) aired his grievances regarding the way a case involving the theft of his belongings whilst serving at Keat Hong Camp was handled by the authorities.
The NSF, who has expressed his wish to remain anonymous, initially thought that he had left his Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) Visa Debit card at home when it went missing from his wallet after booking out on the evening of 16 June 2017.
However, after receiving an “SMS notification from DBS” which stated “that a [Network for Electronic Transfers] NETS transaction of $2163.00 was made at ScooterHub at 8.57 p.m.” on the same day, he realised that his card was actually stolen.
In addition to the unauthorised ScooterHub transaction, the NSF also said that a transfer of $3000 was made from his account to a POSB account at an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) at Choa Chu Kang MRT at 6.52 p.m. the same day.
Another unauthorised NETS transaction of $35.55 was made at 7.42pm the same day for the purpose of payment for a Comfort DelGro Taxi fare.
The NSF had subsequently made a police report on 16 June 2017 against his bunk mate, who he had suspected to have committed the bank card theft, regarding the unauthorised transactions.
However, he said that his case “was not fully investigated by the Singapore Police Force”.
Instead, the case was “later referred to the Military Police” under the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), as the theft took place within Keat Hong Camp.
Consequently, he questioned the decision of the SPF to refer his case to the Singapore Armed Forces, seeing how the unauthorised transactions did not take place within the camp.
“Why is this criminal case referred to the Military Police of the SAF when the transactions took place outside the military camp?”
According to the NSF, the accused had confessed to the police that he had managed to guess the NSF’s debit card’s Personal Identification Number (PIN), which were the digits of the NSF’s birthday.
The NSF elaborated that the accused had confessed to the police that he had “attempted to guess the PIN on two separate occasions on different days”.
Additionally, the accused has also confessed that he had stolen “$600 in cash” from the NSF.
The NSF wrote that the total amount that he had lost as a result of the theft was $5798.55.
He is “very disturbed” by the way the SPF and the SAF have handled his case, and has suffered “a lot of emotional stress” and “psychological harm” as a result of the lengthy, tedious process of attempting to obtain compensation from the parties involved.
The NSF has aIso consulted his lawyer, who has advised that there is “sufficient evidence” to charge the accused under s.379 of Ch. 224, which is the chapter related to criminal offences against property, of the Penal Code for the criminal offence of theft, seeing that even the accused has confessed carrying out the theft during an investigation with SPF.
“There is overwhelming evidence against the Accused Person to be charged in a court of law accordingly. Where is the justification?” He laments in his letter.
The NSF also stated that the Officer Commanding (OC)’s decision to reintegrate the accused into the company would make him subject to continuous psychological harm and distress, as the accused will continue to “reside in the same bunk” as the one he was in, with the accused potentially parading his new items that were bought using the money that was stolen.
He believes that a grave “miscarriage of justice” has occurred throughout the chronology of his case.
On 18 June 2018, the NSF has provided a follow-up regarding his case.
He had furnished The Online Citizen with the following details:
- The subordinate military courts do not have the power to compel the thief to return [to] me the sum of $5,798.55.
- The police or the civil courts have no power to compel the thief to return me the money [in this scenario]. Unless I was injured in the process, [only] then I can claim medic expenses.
- The e-scooter that was purchased by the thief using his debit card could not be returned to him as he was not the rightful owner of the e-scooter, according to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). Nonetheless, Scooter Hub Pte Ltd, the company from which the e-scooter was purchased, regrets my experience in this matter and wishes to offer assistance. The Investigating Officer who has been liaising with him on this case will put him in touch with Scooter Hub. However, the scooter did not comply with the Land Transport Authority (LTA)’s new ruling, thus he did not manage to get any form of compensation from Scooter Hub, since there are no buyers for a scooter that do not meet the new weight requirements.
- The accused had served 2 months [in a] detention barrack and does not have to serve his jail time outside. Based on protocol, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), SPF and MINDEF have decided that since the first incident of theft (the stealing of cash from his wallet) had occurred in Keat Hong Camp, the case was [to be] referred to MINDEF. Hence, although all the transactions took place outside of camp, there will be no criminal record on him [regarding this case] and his record will be clean after he [has passed his Operationally Ready Date] ORD. Only SAF will have his record.
The NSF’s father has written to a letter to Second Minister for Home Affairs and Member of Parliament of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Ms Josephine Teo regarding his son’s case.
Subsequently, MINDEF confirmed that they have received notice regarding the case and are currently investigating the matter.
The NSF concluded his letter with a message, warning all present and future NSFs of “this loop hole in Singapore law” that appears to absolve an NSF from his criminal records, and thus allow crimes to go unrecorded in his civilian records, as “only SAF will have your record”.
He added that based on his particular case, there is a high possibility that “the police or courts do not have the power to take” what has been stolen from an NSF and to “return it to the victim” due to the way his case was handled.