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Far from the good guys that they try to portray of themselves, police behaviour on 15 Mar 08 was despicable.
For one they treated Mr John Tan, SDP’s assistant secretary-general, without regard for his safety. As Mr Tan had difficulty getting into the police vehicle several officers, thinking that they were away from the public eye, dragged him in a very rough manner (see video).
Inside the police van, despite being told that Mr Tan was suffering from a frozen shoulder, they forced his hands behind his back to handcuff him. Mr Tan turned pale with pain.
In the meantime, one of the protesters kept shouting that Mr Tan was diabetic and asked the officers to take it easy.
When he arrived at the station, Mr Tan was obviously in need of medical assistance.
The officer who arrested Ms Chee Siok Chin got ahold of her finger and bent it. Ms Chee cried out “You’re breaking my finger! You’re breaking my finger!” which was recorded on video.
Another protester was treated in a similarly shameful manner. Mr Seelan Palay fell over as he was led to the police vehicle. The officers proceeded to drag him by the arms into the van, causing him to hit his head against the steps of the van.
Mr Chong Kai Xiong, another one of the protesters who was arrested, had three of his left fingers sprained when an officer grabbed and twisted them during the arrest.
At the police station, the police demanded that the protesters remove their “Tak Bolen Tahan” T-shirts and hand them over for investigation.
In the first place, did the police not have enough video footage and photographs showing the protesters wearing their T-shirts?
Secondly, could they not have taken photographs of those arrested while they were in custody? Why the insistence that the shirts be seized?
Mr John Tan asked to call lawyer Mr M Ravi for legal advice first to see if the police had the right to seize the T-shirts.
The Investigating Officer refused and called in four of his colleagues, who proceeded to pin Mr Tan against the wall and literally ripped the shirt off. As a result, Mr Tan sustained scratches to his arm.
The police also demanded that the protesters hand over their cellphones. When Mr Chia Ti Lik initially refused, four officers were called in.
But there was one officer who stood out in his utter lack of respect for the uniform he wore. Station Inspector Tan Kok Ann, a stout man with a crew cut, was flippant as he was dishonest.
When the protesters were standing around and talking with each other in the holding celling, SI Tan insisted that everyone had to be seated. Dr Chee Soon Juan asked that the officer leave the cell as they were in the midst of a private conversation.
But SI Tan refused and stood right in front of the group.
Later in the evening, the Station Inspector came in and told the group that everyone was free to leave after bail was posted. All except Ms Chee Siok Chin whom he said was being held back for further investigation.
Upon hearing this, the group decided not to post bail in order to remain in the police station with Ms Chee. They asked to see her as she was kept separate from the men.
Officer Tan Kok Ann turned down the request as, according to him, those arrested could not communicate with each other. This was obviously a fabrication as all the male protesters were kept in the same room and were freely talking among themselves.
In addition, when Ms Chee was arrested in September last year over the Burmese issue and was taken to the Tanglin Police Division, she was allowed to communicate with Mr John Tan, Mr Gandhi Ambalam, and Dr Chee who were also arrested.
However, after hearing that the rest would not post bail if they did not get to see Ms Chee first, Officer Tan quickly returned and told the group that everyone, including Ms Chee, would be released together.
As if pleased with himself for his great performance that day, SI Tan Kok Ann did a little jig in front of those in the holding cell. Yes, in full uniform.