On Sunday (20 July), lawyer and former ISA detainee Teo Soh Lung took to her Facebook to question the authorities on why no further action was taken against Minister Ong Ye Kung who allegedly breached election campaign rules during the recent general election.
In her post, Ms Teo pointed out that Mr Ong has committed an ‘arrestable offence’ under the Parliamentary Elections Act. However, she had read the news report about how the Education Minister was “being let off” by the authorities.
She wrote, “Ong Ye Kung has committed an offence under section 81(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act. This offence is an ‘arrestable offence’ under section 81 (7) which reads: ‘Every offence under this section for contravening subsection (1), (1A) or (2) shall be an arrestable offence within the meaning of the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 (Act 15 of 2010).’”
Under this Act, the police have the power to seize electronic equipment, video cameras, computers and mobile phones, said Ms Teo.
However, she noted that the authorities have released Mr Ong without summoning him to the police station and interrogating him for hours.
“Ong didn’t even receive a police warning,” she added.
As compared with Mr Ong, she said that Roy Ngerng, Ravi Philemon, Kumaran and herself who the police claimed committed offences under the same law in 2016 “had to endure humiliating police treatment”.
Citing her experience of being arrested by the police, Ms Teo said that she was interrogated and threatened by the police officers who had asked her to hand over her mobile phone. She was later told that the offence she had committed was an “arrestable offence”.
“I was visited by plain clothes police officers late in the night. They tracked my movement and left me a letter under my door. The next day, which was a Sunday, police officers came knocking at my door at 9 a.m. I was asked to go to Cantonment Police HQ the following day.
“At the police HQ, I was interrogated and threatened by several tough looking police officers and told to hand over my mobile phone. I was told that the offence I committed was an “arrestable offence” similar to what Ong Ye Kung had committed.”
Ms Teo went on to say that she did not commit murder but she has been escorted home by eight police officers. She questioned why they needed so many officers to arrest an “unarmed five-feet-tall old person”.
“I refused to hand over my mobile phone and was threatened with arrest by several police officers. Four plain clothes police officers then escorted me to my flat in a police car. Imagine my shock when I arrived at my block to meet another team of 4 police officers who introduced themselves as forensic officers. I didn’t commit a murder but I was escorted home by 8 police officers. What kind of police force do we have that needs 8 officers to arrest an unarmed 5 feet tall old person?”
She also believed that the others who were arrested under the same law “were similarly treated”.
Although they were let off with warnings and had their electronic devices returned to them many months later, Ms Teo noted that the devices were damaged due to negligence and disuse, adding that she had to purchase new devices after the incident.
As such, Ms Teo requested that the Elections Department and police clarify why “special treatment” was accorded to Mr Ong as he was allowed to remove the offending video and was not even summoned to the police station, while Ms Teo and the others “were treated like criminals”.
“Will the Elections Department and the police tell me and the public why Ong Ye Kung was accorded special treatment and treated differently?
“Why was Ong Ye Kung given the opportunity to remove the video while we were not given the opportunity to remove our posts?
“Why were we treated like criminals while Ong was not even summoned to the police station?”
It was reported that on the third day of election campaigning (2 July), Mr Ong had posted a three-minute video on his Facebook page featuring a young boy who lives in Sembawang, in which they spoke about “how it is a good place to grow up” in.
Shortly after, however, Mr Ong issued an apology and took down the video after being “informed by authorities that this is not in line with electoral rules”.
Under Section 83(1)(a) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, primary and secondary school students are prohibited from partaking in any election activities — including videos such as the one uploaded by Mr Ong.
Last Saturday (18 July), the Elections Department (ELD) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a joint statement that the latter will be taking no further action against Mr Ong as the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) “had looked into the matter”.
Their statement added that the ARO “had issued an advisory to Mr Ong Ye Kung to remind him to comply with the law in relation to all campaigning activities”.