Mr Pritam Singh: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank the Minister for the extended remarks on this matter.
I have two questions. One pertains to the comments made by Minister on the lapse vis-a-vis investigations from the 30 October to 3 December. This was in Part 1 of Minister’s Statement. I think from the public perspective, there is a concern when investigations for whatever purposes are somewhat not conducted properly or what the Minister said, “in breach of Police’s requirements”. So, my question really is what is the extent of this issue? The Minister alluded to manpower problems. I think the concern is, moving forward, how significant does the Minister assess this matter to be? Can it be a matter that can be resolved by directives or circulars from the Commanding Officers of various Divisions? That is the first inquiry.
The second is pertaining to a statement that I believe that was made today by the NGO HOME about a complaint that Ms Parti Liyani lodged against the Police concerning the way the IO conducted himself at trial. I would like to inquiry whether those investigations have been completed, and if they have been completed, can the Minister share what have been the Police’s findings?
My last issue – actually, it is not a question. The Minister spoke earlier of sharing some Annexes with Members of this House. If I heard him right, he said the Annexes would be outside the Chamber. I do not believe there are any Annexes outside. We just have Annex 3. Are those other Annexes going to be shared now or will we receive them later? That is just a question of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr K Shanmugam: On the Annexes, Mr Singh, there was a set that they were distributing but let me go and check. I think other Members also say they do not have it, so I will check. During the break, they were supposed to have distributed but we will try and make sure of that. I apologise. So, that is a small matter.
Now, the lapse. Again, let us be clear. The manpower issue cannot be an excuse. Let us be clear about that. I have made that clear. It is a breach of Police rules, it is a breach of the law and disciplinary action is being taken. I will have to check whether the rules allow this but if the rules allow this, I will find out the details of what happened and I am happy to share it with Mr Singh, when eventually it is dealt with. In this case, it is not to be treated as a precedent.
The broader reason for this is, of course, a matter of concern. And in my Ministerial Statement I said I have asked myself how often are IOs under such kind of pressure. So, there is a review, the Police will come back to me and let me know how much pressure they are under. But I have given you the broader statistics and you can understand in every aspect of policing work. It is not a matter unknown to you all. I think Ms Sylvia Lim has raised it more than once in this House about the pressure that lack of manpower resources have put the Police under. It is common to both sides of the House on this issue. But I have asked on the extent of the pressure and I will get a better sense of it.
On the statement by HOME, I have not been able to look at it very carefully. But we have focused, in my Ministerial Statement, on what the Judge dealt with. As far as I am concerned, those are the issues that are raised, that I have to deal with here.
If there is a specific concern about what has been set out in the HOME statement, a question can be put up and we can deal with it.
But I will say this. Though it arises from a Police report that Ms Liyani has made – not Ms Liyani, I think HOME had made. A number of things. Four things were mentioned. One was the translation issue that I had dealt with. The other was the fact that five weeks were taken, which I have dealt with. I really wonder how these are matters for filing of a Police report. The fact that the IO took five weeks is a matter that a victim files a Police report to complain about?
And I think, Mr Singh, we all know that Ms Liyani is not doing this. We know why this is being done. But the Police will deal with it and will respond in due course. And I am not suggesting that anybody in this House is responsible for it.
Ministry of Home Affairs
4 November 2020