Dear Singapore Police Force & National Environment Agency,
I’m deeply concerned about how the police has handled the wrongful arrest of my father, Tan Chye Seng, and how this has caused unnecessary psychological distress to my father and as well as my whole family.
On the 12th of March 2015 at about 8.30 p.m., two arresting officers claimed to be from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) knocked on our door. They demanded my father to hand over his NRIC without giving any explanation.
When we asked about the crime he committed, the two officers refused to give any explanation, and insisted on demanding my father’s NRIC before commenting further. After my father gave his NRIC, the female officer said that my father did not attend the court hearing for an offence committed under the National Environment Agency (NEA) on 3rd of January 2012. Therefore, he has to go to Cantonment Police Station for further investigations.
However, when I asked about the kind of offence he has committed to warrant such an arrest, the two officers were not able to answer my questions, and kept saying that they do not know why either. When I repeated the question, the female officer replied: “We are the arresting officers!” My father then looked closely at the warrant shown by the male police officer. It contains the list of people who are to be arrested by the officers on duty.
Being law-abiding citizens, we eventually relented and my father went with the police officers. He was put into the police car handcuffed and was sent to the Clementi Police Station for investigations. After they reached, the police officers got out, and my father was left alone in the car for one and a half hour. The female officer later told my father that after they are done with the paperwork, they can send my father back. She mentioned that the case has been closed a few days ago and the police were not aware of it at the point of the arrest. The male officer then sent my father back home.
Why did my father get arrested for a crime that the police cannot even explain? The arresting officers were unable to produce a personalized police warrant that specifies the full details of the offence that my father has committed for which he did not attend the court hearing. During the car ride back to our home, the male police officer even told my father that the government statutory boards such as NEA and Housing Development Board (HDB) will send them a list of people to be arrested, but without explanation about the offences they have committed individually.
The police will then send down officers to arrest these people in exchange for a sum of “working pay” from these statutory boards.
This episode has undermined my confidence of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as an competent and transparent force that is respected by many countries around the world. I am extremely convinced that the gap between the SPF and statutory boards can be bridged to indicate the exact crimes in which people, like my father, have committed before heading down to make arrests.
Also, the police should take special care to confirm the legitimacy of the crimes committed so that it will not cause unnecessary distress to the wrongfully “accused” and to their families.