Published: 25 May 2021
1. This whole thing started, a few days ago, when someone put up a video saying that Police bullied an elderly lady. Police came out with a statement to say, look, this lady was lost and we were actually helping her, and they had bought food for her and helped her home.
2. Now TOC (The Online Citizen Asia) has put up a video taken by the person who made the original allegation and said Police have lied, [that] they didn’t buy food for her and that they shouted at her, basically bullied her. You know, it is regrettable that these very false statements are being made. The TOC video clip is not clear, and it is partial, because it doesn’t capture both the points where they said Police lied. So, I have asked Police to release the clips from their body-worn camera (BWC). You can see it, it is clear. Once you see it, there can be no argument.
3. The Police statement was correct and accurate. What TOC said is false. The BWC camera shows that the Police officer was helping the lady. He bought food for the lady, passed it on to her. And, the clip also shows exactly what was said by the Police officer. The officer wasn’t even speaking to the old lady. She speaks Hokkien. The officer spoke in English to the elderly lady’s helper. The officer said, and I quote: “She never wear mask, you know.”
4. The elderly lady has dementia. Her daughter has confirmed this. The daughter is upset. She told the Police, she is upset that the old lady has been taken advantage of by TOC to spin a story, because TOC had put up a video of the lady saying various things. You can tell. People who have dealt with people who have dementia will know that you can sometimes get them to say many things. They will not remember what they had, half an hour earlier.
5. So, TOC, you go and interview her, this old lady. Try and get her to say things. I would say this is despicable, and how low people will stoop. Unethical, cynical. This whole exercise by TOC is quite malicious, to attack the Police.
6. We have many elderly people in Singapore. What happened here is not an unusual occurrence. A fair number have dementia. They get lost in the housing estates. Police are often called, they go there, they help them, and that is what happened here.
7. TOC took one such incident, which I have said is not unusual, twisted the facts and said Police bullied her, chased her away. TOC has done this to try and cast doubt on the Police, to damage the trust that people have in the Police. And it is really a disservice to the thousands of Police officers who have been fighting at the frontlines, for the whole of last year, and so far this year, dealing with COVID-19 while keeping law and order.
8. When any Police officer does wrong, we charge that officer, take disciplinary action. People would have seen media stories of Police officers being charged. They are in fact dealt with seriously. But when they are wrongly maligned, I won’t sit by and do nothing.
9. The two officers in the video – one is a Team Leader, the other is a Deputy Team Leader. The officer who was seen speaking on the video, the Deputy Team Leader, has 23 years of service in the SPF, 21 years in Yishun South NPC. You maliciously attack officers like this, who spend their entire lives serving Singaporeans. He is an officer with a heart. In his spare time, he helps out in Family Service Centres, he does community work, he has gone overseas to help out when natural disasters struck.
10. And here, he wanted to buy food for the lady and made sure she went home safely. It is not part of a Police officer’s duty to go and buy food for people who are lost. But he does that, and instead, he gets branded as a bully. It is really quite sad.
Minister, would you like to share more on the conduct of the posters who made these false allegations, and is MHA or Police considering further action against them?
11. I described the conduct earlier, I call it despicable. You know, TOC attacks the Government with its team of Malaysian writers. That is regular. But I would say: keep your malice and venom to politics – we can deal with it. Don’t bring that toxicity to attack Police officers. Spare them. They are just doing their job. As to whether any further actions is to be taken, that is a matter to be considered. It is premature for me to comment.
Minister is this the first time that body-worn camera footage has been released and if so, why did MHA feel that this is a necessary action?
12. I can’t be sure that this is the first time it has been released. But I directed Police to release, [as] I have told you earlier. There’s a video circulating, which has been taken by someone, and it’s partial, it’s not clear, and it has been twisted. To set out the facts, I told Police, release the BWC, because body-worn camera, you look at it, you know precisely what happened.
Are we to understand that this would not be a precedent, that you won’t be releasing body-worn footage very often?
13. Well, generally, these are, whether it’s evidence from a camera or evidence from documents, if there is an offence, it would be part of the investigative process, and you don’t release these things. Police have the power to release, but you’ve got to look at the circumstances, and then you’ve got to make sure that nobody is prejudiced by such a release, investigations are not prejudiced. And there must be a good reason for releasing, even if the other circumstances are satisfied. You know, if there’s no prejudice, no investigations being carried out, which will be prejudiced, and there is some public interest to be served. As I’ve said, when doubt is being cast on the Police’s integrity by using a video which is not clear and which is partial, then I think public interest is served by releasing the relevant parts of the body-worn camera.
14. Thank you.