A bunch of police officers tried to intimidate activists who were handing out leaflets to alert the public to the Empower Singaporeans Rally and March on 16 September 2006.
Three officers approached Ms Chee Siok Chin and Mr Charles Tan at Raffles City Shopping Mall and warned the two that they were committing an offence.
When asked what offence was being committed, the police could only say that it was a “seizable offence.” Pressed to be more specific, one officer said that his superior would inform them.
The officers also said that they would have to seize the flyers and quickly grabbed the bag of leaflets sitting on the ground.
When Dr Chee Soon Juan appeared another bunch of police officers told him that he had to stop distributing the flyers.
“Under what section of the law is it an offence?” Dr Chee queried.
“It is a seizable offence,” came the exasperating reply.
“You haven’t answered my question. What Act says that it is an offence to distribute leaflets? If you cannot tell me which specific law I am breaking, how can you tell me to stop doing what I am doing?” Dr Chee continued.
Quickly changing the subject, the officer said, “I have to take the flyers.” He reached out to grab the leaflets which Dr Chee was holding.
“If you want to seize the flyers then take me as well. We go together,” Dr Chee suggested.
The police officer retracted his hand.
At this point there were at least six police cameras lurking in the various corners recording the encounter.
“I can come with you right now if you want me to. Where is your car?” Dr Chee offered again. “If you say I am committing an offence, then let’s go to the police station. Otherwise please move aside as you are blocking my way.”
The bunch withdrew into the crowd and hung around the shops, looking from afar.
The activists continued distributing whatever pamphlets they had left. When they ran out, they approached the police officers to ask them to give back the flyers they had stolen.
But as soon as the activists got close to the officers who were all in civilian wear, they dispersed in different directions like suspects fleeing the scene of the crime.
One, Senior Staff Sergeant Lee Hong Chee, who pretended to be a shopper looking at a window display whilst sipping on an ice-blended coffee, was not quick enough. When asked where his colleagues were he said, “I don’t know.”
“Do you know it was wrong to take our pamphlets when you haven’t told us what offence we had committed?” Dr Chee asked.
Sgt Lee searched for an answer but could only play back the pre-recorded message, “I don’t know.”
“Where are the flyers?” Dr Chee asked again.
“They are with my colleagues.”
“Where are your colleagues?”
“I don’t know…”
“You’re not a very competent officer, are you?” Dr Chee continued.
“I don’t know…Thank you,” the sergeant stammered, and quickly walked away.
Seeing two more officers sitting in the distance, the activists sought their assistance. As before the two quickly scuttled away. But Dr Chee called them back and after asking them to produce their warrant cards, one was Senior Staff Sgt Zaihir Shan s/o Syed and the other was Sgt Andrew Ong, he asked them for the confiscated pamphlets.
Almost simultaneously the two officers’ cellphones rang and they both pretended to be engaged in deep conversation while quickly walking away.
These officers were not behaving the way our men-in-blue should – with dignity and professionalism. Instead, when asked they could not cite the law they were supposed to enforce and they behaved like a group of suspects who quickly dispersed when confronted.
First World Government? Yeah, right.