Dodging the REAL Issues - The Case of Benjamin Lim
By Goh Meng Seng
I am utterly disappointed by the Minister for Home Affairs (who is also the Minister of Law, which I always feel is totally inappropriate as it may constitute a conflict of interests but this article is not about this) Mr. Shanmugam's statement made in parliament with regards to the case of Benjamin Lim Jun Hui.
Instead of addressing the many valid pertinent concerns raised by the public, on and off-line, he has put up a barrage of fire attacks at The Online Citizen (TOC) and the President of Law Society, Mr. Thio Shen Yi with totally irrelevant petty details of bickering.
Whether there were 4 or 5 policemen went to the school, wearing police uniforms or plain clothes are really irrelevant to the pertinent questions asked by TOC, Mr Thio and the public at large.
It is even more ridiculous for the Minister to cast doubts on TOC's intent by raising the fact that it has reported that the Police refused to comment on the matter when approached!
For whatever reasons the police refused to comment (such as those reasons presented by the Minister himself), it should just say so when TOC asked them! A good and competent Public Relations Officer from the Police would have made a simple comment like "We cannot comment on this case as internal investigation is still ongoing." or "We cannot comment on this case as there will be Coroner Inquiry, please wait for the result of Coroner Inquiry"...etc.
The total ignore aka silence from the Police smacks of either arrogance or complete incompetency in its Public Relations communication.
The Police has its own Pubic Relations officers. If the Police refused to answer to TOC's inquiries, then the Minister cannot blame the TOC for reporting so (the truth that the police refused to comment on) and which thereafter the general public will form its own opinion based on discretion.
So my dear Minister, it is the FAILURE of Police Public Relations officers in responding to the matter in timely manner that created public perception, not TOC. TOC merely reported the NO RESPONSE from the police!
It is of course the prerogative of the Police in keeping silent but it must also understand that in keeping quiet there will be possibly undesirable consequences and implications.
By the way, the Main stream media also reported 5 officers went to the school! Please lah! Why not criticize the Main stream media as well?
As for the President of Law Society, the point made was the necessity of the police making the arrest at the school! So, don't try to divert from this pertinent question by going into the irrelevant bickering. Do you think it is appropriate or necessary for the police to send 4 or 5 police officers to the school to make the arrest?
There are more important questions raised by the public and I expect the Minister to address them, instead of using diversion tactics to dodge these questions so as to avert public anger:
1) Does the Minister think it is RIGHT (never mind if it is legal or not) for policemen to go to school to arrest students who are just suspects of crimes?
2) Does the Minster think it is RIGHT (never mind if it is legal or not) for the police to interrogate minors without the presence of a guardian or legal representative? In fact, is it right for police to deny legal representation or aid to suspects, regardless of age, during interrogation?
These are the two important issues raised by the President of Law Society and they are valid questions to be addressed fully. These questions raised does NOT constitute sub judice but it is of GREAT PUBLIC INTERESTS.
I hope the Minister could address these real issues instead of wasting time trying to divert attention to inconsequential minor details and bickering.
Oh, by the way, the poor boy was just investigated but NO OFFICIAL JUDGMENT has been made about him just yet. I do not understand why the Minister would insinuate him as "guilty" in parliament just because, according to the police interrogation, he "confessed" to the crime. His confession could be contested in court if there was really a court case but unfortunately, he won't have that trial now. So I would urge the Minister not to put judgment on the poor dead boy in parliament even though he is also the Minister of Law, he must be reminded he is not the judge; neither was the case heard in a court of law.
This article first appeared on Singapore Alternatives on 2 March 2016. It is reproduced with permission.
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