MARUAH Singapore, in support of fair police process and procedures in carrying out their duties in upholding the law and in this case regarding the Parliamentary Elections Act, sent the appended letter to Straits Times’ Forum pages on 2 June 2016. The letter was to date not published.
The Forum Page Editor,
The Straits Times
MARUAH is writing to express our disappointment and concerns at the manner and the process in which suspects, Ms Teo Soh Lung and Mr Roy Ngerng, were treated during police investigations that were held on 31st May 2016.
Firstly, we say that investigations needed to be done and the investigation officers were carrying out their duties. We leave it to the courts to decide on the allegations against Ms Teo and Mr Ngerng.
Secondly we find the investigation process as extremely intrusive and not proportionate to the alleged offence(s) of the suspects. The offence is not in the nature of a violent crime. The suspects had agreed to sending out the postings on Facebook. But before they could sign off on the statements given, there was a proposal by the investigation officers to seize mobile phones and computers.
Thirdly we are concerned with this power and authority used by the Police and the Investigation Officers to seize the computer, the laptop, the mobile phones of the suspects. Any non-compliance would mean arresting the suspects under Section 34 of the Criminal Procedure Code( Chapter 68). In fact one of the suspects, Ms Teo, offered herself to be arrested. But there was no arrest or an application for an order to be expedited to search the homes of the suspects. With the threat of arrests of a non-violent crime, the officers entered the homes of Ms Teo and Mr Ngerng to seize the equipment.
Fourthly we ask what are the safeguards against collateral investigations by the police into what we see as unrelated issues that result from the possession of devices and the various social/communications accounts?
Lastly we also ask for clarity on the approach taken by the officers towards Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and MP Tan Pei Ling who were given a warning for the statements/actions made on Cooling Off Day.
We ask all this as it is equally important for our authorities to be clear on their processes and if it was really necessary to take on this level of an intrusive approach for this alleged offence. We ask so that the public, civil society, political candidates can also be educated on these applications of the provisions under this Criminal Procedure Code.
Ms Braema Mathi