Sergeant lies that he is not a police officer

December 1, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats
30 Nov 07

On the fourth day of Dr Chee Soon Juan’s and Mr Yap Keng Ho’s trial, police witness Sgt Lam Tien Chiang gave a testimony with so many twists and turns that would make a pretzel jealous.

The two men are are facing multiple charges of speaking without a permit during the election period in 2006.

Yesterday when he first took the stand, Sgt Lam told the court that he had arrived at the scene of crime at 3:45 pm on 8 Apr 07 where he was assigned to take photographs and videotape SDP members selling The New Democrat.

He said that he had emerged from the Causeway Point Shopping Centre, walked into the crowd, called his superiors, and thereafter started recording the SDP’s activity with his video-camera.

Dr Chee asked him to confirm if the above sequence was correct. Yes, said the Sgt.

Dr Chee took the witness through the sequence of movements again and asked him if he was sure everything happened as described. Yes, said the Sgt.

“Then how did you take this photo?” Dr Chee asked, pointing to a photograph which Sgt Lam said he had taken at 3:45 pm (the time he arrived at the scene of crime) but from a position “quite far away”, in the officer’s own words, “from the scene of crime.”

The Sgt blinked for a moment.

“Oh,” he offered when he recovered, “I want to clarify…I took the picture before I arrived at the scene.”

Caution: Police integrity at work!

Dr Chee then moved on to the Sgt’s communication with his superior, Station Inspector Charles Soon. He asked the witness what did he and SI Soon, talk about when they first communicated with each other over the phone.

Sgt Lam: I described to him what I saw at the scene.

Dr Chee: Did you tell him anything else?

Sgt Lam: No.

Dr Chee: Are you sure?

Sgt Lam: Yes, I’m sure.

Dr Chee: When you later met Charles Soon after you finished the video-recording, what did you two talk about?

Sgt Lam: I briefed him on my video-recording.

Dr Chee: Did you tell him anything else?

Sgt Lam: No.

Dr Chee: Are you sure?

Sgt Lam: Yes.

Dr Chee: You also said you were sure earlier when I asked you repeatedly about the sequence of your movement. When I showed you the photo, you then changed your story and said you wanted to clarify. I ask you again: Are you sure that you didn’t tell SI Charles Soon anything else when you met after the recording?

Sgt Lam: Yes.

Dr Chee: What did Charles Soon tell you?

Sgt Lam: He directed me to take additional photographs. (emphasis added)

(The Sgt had earlier said the same thing when the DPP led him during evidence-in-chief.)

Dr Chee: Was there communication between the two of you between your call to him on the phone and when you met up after the video-taping?

Sgt Lam: No.

Dr Chee: Then how did SI Charles Soon know you had already taken a photograph at 3:45 pm when he only arrived at the scene at 3:55 pm?

Oops!

Again, the Sgt blinked and again he offered another story when he recovered: He had told SI Charles Soon when they met after the video-taping that he had taken a photograph earlier at 3:45 pm.

But the lie that took the proverbial cake was when he told SDP’s Monica Kumar that he was not a police officer (he was not in uniform) when she approached him at Woodlands MRT Station on 8 Apr 06.

(From the police’s official transcript)

Ms Monica: Excuse me.

Sgt Lam:Yes, yes, I’m…

Ms Monica: You are doing what? With the police or what?

Sgt Lam: No, no, no.

Ms Monica: Then? What? ISD?

Sgt Lam: No, No, no.

Ms Monica: What? Then what?

Sgt Lam: This one – my…my one. (Referring to the video-camera)

Ms Monica: Your own ah?

Sgt Lam: Yeah.

Ms Monica: Sure uh? (Pause) You want to buy? Read lah. You support us, need to read lah.

Sgt Lam: Must buy one ah?

Ms Monica: We are not rich. We are not PAP.

He had lied twice: One, denying that he was a police officer and, two, that the video-camera was his when it actually belonged to the police force.

When asked why he lied, the witness said it was because he didn’t want to argue with Ms Kumar and wanted to maintain the peace.

When pressed, he said that under certain situations such as when lives/ property were endangered or when the peace could be disrupted, police officers had to lie.

Did Ms Kumar look like she was a threat to life, property, and peace when she approached him?

No, but I didn’t want her to ask me more questions, Sgt Lam insisted.

“Did it occur to you that you could have not lied, told her that you were carrying out police work and warned her not to interfere?” Dr Chee asked.

“Yes, it did occur to me,” Sgt Lam.

“But your preferred response was to lie to her.”

“Yes, that was my assessment.”

There you go, folks, that’s Singapore’s finest for you