Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the police will consider taking action to protect its reputation when persons make false and malicious allegations against the police.
1. Mdm Speaker, the Ministry of Home Affairs takes a serious view of false and malicious allegations against the Police.
2. I refer members to a recent Public Perception Survey. 91% of Singaporeans had said that the Police had demonstrated the core values of courage, loyalty, integrity and fairness when interacting with them. We will always have some people who are not happy, but 91% said this. Over the years, through the consistent upholding and exemplification of these values, the Police have built an enormous reservoir of trust and confidence with the public and that is a huge benefit not just to the Police, but also to Singaporeans as a whole.
3. So, whenever any allegation is received, the first task of the Police is to investigate the allegation quite carefully and thoroughly. If the conclusion of the investigation is that the allegation is false or unwarranted, then the first thing that the Police will do after making the assessment, if necessary, is to issue a public response to say that this is untrue. It will correct and rebut the falsehoods.
4. For example, The Online Citizen ("TOC") in particular glorifies in running the Police down with a series of untrue stories. I referred to some stories last year on their untruths. In a recent case, TOC alleged that Police officers had accused a wheelchair-bound man of motorcycle theft. Designed to make people angry. Falsehood. The Police corrected the allegation within a day. The man was never accused of being involved in any motor vehicle theft, nor was he asked to provide any statement at the police station.
5. The member asked what actions the Police can take. We are considering the adequacy of our laws to ensure sufficient protection against unfounded attacks on the reputation and integrity of public institutions, like the Police.
6. It is not to say that the Police do not make mistakes. It is not to say that some policemen do not commit offences. They do, they are also human. Therefore, there can be no objection to comments, feedback, fair criticisms and complaints. All of them will be looked at. This is Singapore. You read of police officers and other public servants being charged in court where criminal action is warranted. And they face the consequences. That is why people have faith in the system. It will not be covered up.
7. What is objectionable is deliberate falsehoods. If there is no wrong-doing or misconduct, and you deliberately accuse to pull down the institution by manufacturing lies, and if public trust in the Police is eroded and it no longer can enforce the rule of law effectively, all of us will be the worse for it. So we have to take the question of fake news about Police and other agencies seriously, and deal with it.