It has been revealed in the ongoing criminal defamation trial against chief editor of the Online Citizen (TOC), Terry Xu and TOC contributor Daniel De Costa that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) had never filed any police report with regards to the article that is at the heart of this trial.
This runs contrary to a police statement issued by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in 2018 which read:
“On 5 Oct 2018, the Info-communications and Media Development Authority (IMDA) lodged a Police report pertaining to an article titled “The Take Away from Seah Kian Ping’s Facebook Post”, written by one “Willy Sum” and published on the website www.theonlinecitizen.com (“The Online Citizen”). The article had alleged corruption against some persons. The Police, upon receipt of the report from IMDA, consulted the Attorney-General’s Chambers and were given sanction to investigate. The Police also applied to the Courts for and were granted a warrant to search the houses of Xu as well as “Willy Sum”’s houses.”
This means that while the SPF claimed that it was the IMDA who filed a police report on the article, it has now been made clear that it is the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case and not the IMDA who filed a police report on his own accord on 8 October 2018 after the Director of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had passed him a letter of complaint from IMDA!
When this was raised by Mr De Costa’s defence counsel, Mr M Ravi during the hearing on 30 Oct, the State Prosecutor argued that he should not take the Police Statements as gospel truth.
And truth enough, this is also not the first time the SPF has issued a statement that may include inconsistencies.
Remember the tragic case of Benjamin Lim? The teenager who committed suicide after the SPF descended on his school with accusations of outrage of modesty?
At that time, the SPF had said that investigations were kept discreet and that the officers went in plainclothes and in unmarked cars. However, a parent in the school had said that the police had been wearing tee shirts with the word “police” emblazoned across the backs.
While Minister for Law, K Shanmugam has said in Parliament that police officers did not turn up to the school with t-shirts with the words police on them and the police has said that the parent in question was mistaken about the dates of the incident, the circumstances of that day remain unclear with no evidence such as CCTV footage provided.
What is clear however is that a young boy lost his life in avoidable circumstances.
We have more cases that we can raise as examples but what matters is that it is even clear that police statements cannot always be taken at face value. Like the rest of us, they make mistakes.
The difference however is whether or not they get properly and publicly called out for such errors. Given that they are funded by the public, they should be accountable. Yet, does our current system support such accountability?