Thursday, March 19, 2009

A possible case of double standards

This is more of a "highlighting" post. Wayang party reported this:

Phone threats a “non-seizable offence”: case of double standards?

I've followed the links to at least check on their sources and it looks real.

The origin - No action on phone threat (ST Forum - online only? March 11, 2009).

It was short enough to quote in its entirety:

'No one from the police has called. If the caller's intention was real, wouldn't we be harmed by now? How do the police decide which cases to investigate first?'

MADAM TAN LIAN GIM: 'My husband received a verbal threat via his mobile phone last Wednesday. The caller, who knew my husband's name, threatened to inflict bodily harm on him and his family. My husband made a police report the same day at the Bedok North station. No one from the police post has called us since. If the caller's intention was real, wouldn't we be dead or harmed by now? I have read reports about how the police acted swiftly when similar threats were made against a grassroots leader. How do the police decide which cases to investigate first in apparently similar reports?'

I also found the corresponding reply the Wayang Party article noted but failed to link to: "Phone threats a non-seizable offence" (ST Forum March 19, 2009 - It would now seem that both posts were on-print). Again, the response seems short enough to quote directly:

WE REFER to Madam Tan Lian Gim's letter, 'No action on phone threat' (March 11). Under the law, verbal threat is a non-seizable offence where the police have limited powers of investigation and arrests. Nonetheless, when a report is made, the police will look into the facts and if no aggravating factor is found, the police will advise the complainant to lodge a complaint before a magistrate, who has the power to direct further action as provided under the law.

The magistrate can direct the police to lawfully investigate the case and take further action where appropriate.

In Madam Tan's case, the police had found no aggravating factor and Madam Tan's husband was thus advised to lodge a magistrate's complaint accordingly.

DSP Paul Tay,
Assistant Director,
Media Relations,
Singapore Police Force

So, it would appear ... as pointed out by the Wayang Party article that in the case of MP Denise Phua, all the necessary follow-up action must have been taken which ultimately resulted in the current trial involving the man issuing the indirect phone threat.

I, for one, would like to see some transparency here that the followup action did indeed happen because the consequences of that being false is that we have a separate set of rules for VIPs (which is not, by itself, a bad thing) which we know nothing about (that's the bad thing!).

Of course, I am also annoyed that Madam Tan and her husband's case was treated in this fashion by the police given the speed with which the Denise Phua incident was pursued. All this along with, fresh in my mind, the recent incident of the man who was assaulted on an MRT train but was told by the police they could do nothing after being directed there by MRT staff.

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