Public statement by man allegedly abused by police officers, in response to SPF’s Facebook statement

The below statement that is copied to major news outlets in Singapore, is sent by the Singaporean male who alleged to have been abused by police officers at Cantonment Police Complex on 14 Feb 2020

I’m See and these are my response to the statement issued by the Singapore Police Force on 29 June 2021 about the interview published on The Online Citizen Asia on 28 June 2021.

“See was arrested for drink-driving after he failed a breath analyzer test conducted at a Police roadblock along Boon Keng Road on 14 February 2020 at around 3.40am. He was brought back to the lock-up facility at Police Cantonment Complex at about 4.00am where he was processed for detention while pending the conduct of a further breath analyzer test via the Breath Evidential Analyzer (BEA) machine.”

Response: At no point was I told by the police officer at the roadblock that I was being arrested or have failed the breath analyzer test. In fact, I was told to wait for the police van and to accompany the van back to the cantonment police complex and I was given the form — which was incomplete and meant to be kept by the police officer at the roadblock. And hence, I’m still keeping the incomplete form till now. I also note that at no point, was I handcuffed by the police officers.

“At the lock-up, See was attended to by Nursing Officers on two occasions and he was assessed to be fit for detention. At about 4.40am, after a few attempts to provide a BEA test sample, See passed the BEA test taken in the lock-up with a recorded result of 31 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath, which was just below the legal limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 ml of breath.”

Response: There was only one occasion where my health condition was assessed. The lack of further details from the police confirms point (G). No request was made for me to fill up any forms after passing my BEA test, other than to wait for further instructions. I noted that I was told by the officer who performed the BEA test that it would normally be 30 mins before I am allowed to go off, if the result passed.

“As See was legally arrested (having failed his initial breath analyzer test), he was processed in accordance with the rules for persons arrested and brought into Police custody. This included conducting a search on him, verification of his identity, a medical examination and assessment of his condition to determine whether he was fit for detention, and registering of his property, among others. The Investigation Officer (“IO”), in charge of See’s case took charge of the processes, before See was released. The processes included checking if See had other pending traffic or police cases, the ownership of the car driven by him, the validity of his driving license and vehicle insurance.”

Response: The police officer at the roadblock did not tell me that I was being arrested, neither did any of the officers at the roadblock escort back to the Cantonment police complex. I was told to hitch a ride to the complex in a police van along with a CISCO officer.

“However, See refused to enter the temporary holding area as he told officers to the effect that he was claustrophobic and would harm himself if put into the temporary holding area again. See insisted on waiting along a common corridor, which would affect the movement of persons, including other persons-in-custody, within the facilities. Officers explained that he could not wait there, but he refused to move. See continued to disregard officers’ repeated instructions to move into the temporary holding area and warned officers that he might cause harm to himself.”

Response: In its statement, the police acknowledged that I had entered the temporary holding area as it writes, “if put into the temporary holding area again”.

After entering the temporary holding area for around 5 mins, I told the officers that I cannot take it, as I could not breathe properly and have to leave the area. The officers then told me that if I cannot enter the temporary holding area, they will have to put me in the lockup cell. I told the officers that if I go into the lockup cell, I might injure myself.

This is where they then said that they would put me in the padded cell instead to prevent injuring myself. At that moment, my whole body was freeze. In the lockup, I was not handcuffed for the whole event as I wasn’t violent at all. Even when they handcuffed me to the wheelchair, I still cooperated with the officers.

However, I started to resist as I was frightened at the sight of the padded cell. I begged them not to treat me in such manner but they became more violent towards me in the process of getting me into the padded cell.

The lock-up area is large enough for me to sit at a corner, and I had already voiced my concern about my claustrophobia which is medically certified. So, given the fact that I was not arrested and had passed my BEA test, why was there a need to detain me in the padded cell?

“At about 6am, See requested to use the toilet. Arrangements were made for more officers to escort See to the toilet due to his prior struggle. When the officers got to the cell, See was observed to be sleeping, hence they did not wake him. Prior to this, See was allowed to use the toilet on two occasions at about 4.30am and 4.55am.”

Response: SPF’s statement does not deny that I was forced to urinate in the cell.

“When breakfast was served at around 6.25am, an officer checked on See and found him to still be asleep. As such, breakfast was not served to him.”

Response: I was sleeping on the floor, curled up as I was so cold, having just my t-shirt and shorts in the freezing temperature.

“In our review, we did not find records of See’s request to make any phone calls. While in Police custody, requests for calls to external parties made by persons-in-custody are assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

Response: I emphasis that I was not arrested or told that I have been arrested. Therefore, my right to make a phone call should not have been deprived.

“CCTV footage showed that there were no signs of See limping or exhibiting discomfort when he eventually left the padded cell. He was able to walk normally and was escorted by officers.”

Response: SPF’s statement does not deny that I was so weak that I had to be helped out of the room with the aid of two officers.

“See was released unconditionally from Police custody at about 7.40am on 14 February 2020, around four hours after his arrest, and he was told to collect his vehicle later in the evening for safety considerations. The Police do not typically release vehicles back to persons arrested for drink driving straight after their release from custody as they may still have alcohol in their body, which could affect their faculties and cause them to pose a risk to themselves and other road users if they are allowed to operate the vehicle too soon. See subsequently collected his vehicle on the night of 14 February 2020.”

Response: I note that the officers only decided to release me after I had shouted for help at around 7.30am. If I had not sounded out to the officers, I would surely have been detained in the cell for a longer period of time.

Also, if I had been arrested, shouldn’t I have to fill in a form to be processed or released? To my recollection, I was not made to fill up any form or provide any particulars to the police, other than for the purpose of depositing my belongings. In the interview published on 28 June 2021, there was no complain about the collection of my vehicle. Interestingly, they needed 3-4 hours to check if I have any previous criminal record?

“See then wrote in again one year later, on 2 June 2021, to enquire about this case. The Police had tried to contact him on two separate occasions and offered to arrange a further interview with him to hear his concerns. However, he declined to be interviewed.”

Response: I wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs on 2 June 2021. The Police only started to contact me on 23 June 2021 after TOC wrote to the police for their response on 14 June 2021.

Other than the statement, SPF has also summarized the points of my interview with TOC in the following points.

a) He was held in the Police lock-up for longer than necessary;
b) The Police had assigned him to a padded cell and he was alone inside, even though he had mentioned that he had claustrophobia;
c) The Police had pinned him down and used excessive force in moving him into the padded cell, and he had sustained injuries as a result;
d) The Police had ignored his request to use the toilet and he ended up urinating inside his cell;
e) No food was given to him;
f) The Police had refused to let him call his family members;
g) The medical personnel at the lock-up had ignored his concerns on his high heart rate; and
h) His car was returned to him only after a long time.

I would like to state that in its statement, SPF does not deny (b),(c),(d),(e),(f),(g) but instead attempts to provide a justified explanation of the circumstances.

As for point (a), although SPF keep insisting that I had been arrested, but it cannot provide any documentation to prove this assertion. If I had been arrested, can SPF name the police officer who arrested me and read out my rights to me? I emphasis that I was only handcuffed by the police when they wanted to push me into the padded cell.

As for point (h), this was a point that was not featured in the interview published on TOC.

To conclude, I would like to express my utmost disappointment to the SPF for disclosing my full name in its statement on Facebook. Is SPF trying to intimidate me and my family members so that I will not pursue the matter any further? Does Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) still exist?

Note that in the police’s 18 June letter to Mr See, it did not state that he was put under arrest.

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