You would think that a Superintendent (Supt) of the police would be competent enough to get his story straight when testifying in a court of law. Apparently that’s a myth in Singapore.
Supt Abdul Khalik, Head Investigations of the Central Police Division no less, contradicted himself and his subordinate so badly that he ended up being chastised by the Judge.
This happened when he took the stand in the on-going case in which Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin face charges for assembly without a permit when they distributed flyers at Raffles City in 2006.
At the centre of the dispute was the testimony of his assistant, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) William Goh, who had earlier said that on the day of the incident, 10 Sep 06, he had received a call from Mr Khalik.
Mr Goh said that his boss had told him that there was an illegal assembly taking place by SDP members at the Raffles City Shopping Centre near the City Hall MRT Station and that “Dr Chee and some others were involved.” Mr Goh was assigned as the investigating officer.
The call, Mr Goh told the court, came in at around 11 am. The funny thing was that the SDP leaders did not go to Raffles City until 12:30 pm.
Supt Khalik said that upon receiving the information he called Mr Goh to alert him and to assign him the duty. The time of the call? Between 9-10 am. Following the call, the Supt said that he did not speak with Mr Goh again until after the incident.
He also said that he did not tell Mr Goh during the call that there was an illegal assembly going on and that he did not name Dr Chee nor did he mention the location.
When questioned by Ms Chee about the contradiction with Mr Goh’s testimony, Mr Khalik said flatly: “Mr Goh is mistaken.”
Dr Chee then probed further: “William Goh said that you called him and gave him this info. He said it twice, once when asked by Chee Siok Chin and again when I asked him during my cross-examination. Both times he said that you had given him the information.”
“My answer remains that he is mistaken,” Mr Khalik insisted.
Then came the fumble.
Under questioning by the DPP, Mr Khalik admitted that he, and not Mr Goh, could be mistaken.
Seizing on this Dr Chee asked during re-examination whether the Supt could have called his assistant only after the activity began at 12:30 pm.
“It is possible,” Mr Khalid conceded.
“What I’m trying to do is to rationalize…” he offered weakly, “I am only trying to rationalize based on the best of my memory.”
This earned a warning from the Judge: “Your job as a witness is not to rationalize. It is to answer what you know. Leave the rationalizing to parties.”
“Yes, sir,” the Supt replied meekly.
“You are now saying that both events are possible meaning you could have called him early in the morning or you could have called him only in the afternoon after the activity began. Which is which?” Dr Chee enquired.
The officer conceded that both were possibilities but he could not remember which was which.
“But either way,” Dr Chee pointed out, “you are caught.”
If Mr Khalik had called DSP Goh in the morning before the activity began, the Supt could not have told Mr Goh about the details of the event. In other words, Mr Goh was lying on the stand.
If the Supt called the DSP only in the afternoon after the activity had started, then he was lying on the stand because he had earlier testified that he had called Mr Goh at around 9-10 am and that he had not communicated with the DSP thereafter.
Either way, the testimony of the two senior officers lay in shambles. Worse, one of them was lying under oath.
Such pathetic behaviour by the police is not an isolated incident. Several officers in this and other cases have been caught lying and contradicting each other. (See here and here, for example)
Plastered boldly across the Singapore police website is the rather audacious statement: “We are a police force that inspires the world.” Maybe they should learn how to tell the truth first.
The hearing ended on 16 Oct 09. Parties will submit written closing submissions on 6 Nov and the verdict will be rendered in December.