Why was Education Minister Ong Ye Kung given ‘special treatment’ for alleged breaching of election campaign rules?

By Teo Soh Lung

I just read the report about the Minister for Education being let off by the police and the Elections Department.

Ong Ye Kung has committed an offence under section 81(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act. This constitutes an “arrestable offence” under section 81 (7) which reads:

“Every offence under this section for contravening subsection (1), (1A) or (2) shall be an arrestable offence within the meaning of the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 (Act 15 of 2010).”

This means that the police have the power to seize electronic equipment, video cameras, computers, mobile phones etc.

Instead of summoning Ong to the police station and interrogating him for hours, the Elections Department and the police practically allowed him to walk away scot-free with the mere issuance of this statement:

“Confirming that a police report was received, the joint statement read: “As the Assistant Returning Officer had looked into the matter, the police will not be taking any further action.”

Ong didn’t even receive a police warning.

Activists such as Roy Ngerng, Ravi Philemon, Kumaran and myself on the other hand had to endure humiliating treatment under the same law back in 2016.

I was visited by plain clothes police officers late in the night. They had been tracking my movements for a while before finally leaving me a letter under my door. The next day, which was a Sunday by the way, men came knocking on my door at 9 in the morning, requesting that I report to Cantonment Police HQ the following day.

Over there, I was interrogated and threatened by several tough looking personnel, then instructed to hand over my mobile phone. I was informed that the offence I committed was an “arrestable” one, similar to what Ong Ye Kung had committed.

I refused to comply and was threatened with arrest. Four plain clothes police officers subsequently escorted me back to my flat in a police car. Imagine my shock when I arrived at my block to meet another team of 4 who introduced themselves as forensic officers. What kind of police force requires 8 officers to apprehend an unarmed 5 feet tall elderly person?

Luckily my friends arrived at my flat before me, so they witnessed the entire process during which the police seized my electronic devices, mobile phone included.

I believe Roy and the others encountered similarly hair-raising episodes. Many months later, I was given a stern warning and my electronic devices were returned (in poor condition owing to negligence). By that time, I had purchased replacements for these.

Will the Elections Department and the police explain why Ong Ye Kung was accorded especially lenient treatment?

Why was Ong Ye Kung given the opportunity to remove the video while we weren't permitted to delete our posts?

Why were we treated like criminals while Ong was not even summoned to the police station?


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