LAWYER REMY CHOO: WHY THE EXTREME POLICE ACTION TAKEN FOR COOLING DAY OFFENCES?

I arrived at Soh Lung Teo’s house today at about 2.20 p.m. while 7 – 8 police officers were in the midst of seizing her handphone, desktop and laptop. I asked the IO, Angie Ng, why the police had to seize her electronic devices given that Soh Lung was not disputing the publication of the articles on her personal Facebook page on cooling off day. Soh Lung was willing to cooperate with the police by giving them all necessary information relating to the offence under the Parliamentary Elections Act which were being investigated.

The response was: “this is an arrestable offence, and we do not need to tell you how we conduct our investigations”. I pointed out politely but firmly that it was disproportionate to seize her personal electronic devices which contained personal data, upon which another officer mentioned that I could be charged with obstructing investigations.

By the end of the search, Soh Lung was visibly shaken by the entire spectacle. She was particularly upset that the police had to take her laptop, which had nothing related to the Facebook posts on it.

I was disappointed with the police action. The seizure of a person’s electronic devices is gravely disruptive to their personal lives, and the these devices contain large amounts of personal private data irrelevant to the investigation. I would have thought the police could give a proper explanation as to why they needed to go to such extremes, especially given the fact that these are essentially “political” offences under the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Soh Lung is a fiercely passionate social and political activist, but why must she be treated like a criminal, hell bent on concealing evidence from the police? She’s a former practicing lawyer and council member of the Law Society!

I have written to the police to ask that her electronic devices be returned ASAP, upon her provision of any information or material which is relevant to investigations. I believe this is a reasonable request and should be acceded to.

I do not recall such extreme action being taken against politicians who were alleged to have breached cooling off day regulations. Why the need to use such a heavy hand against individuals posting on their personal Facebook pages?

Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss was at Soh Lung’s house too, and accompanied her to the police station during her questioning in the morning. Chng Suan Tze, one of those detained in the “Marxist Conspiracy” of the 80s, was also present. Two other friends of Soh Lung, Lydia and Patrick, were also there.

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