Parliament to discuss schoolboy's death

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (left) and Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng.
Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (left) and Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng.PHOTOS: BERITA HARIAN FILE, LAU FOOK KONG

Two ministers will address Parliament on Monday on the death of a 14-year-old schoolboy who was being investigated by police, which made headlines in recent weeks.

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam is scheduled to make a ministerial statement on the case, while Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng will speak on the issue of students under investigation.

Secondary 3 student Benjamin was found dead at the foot of his HDB block in Yishun on Jan 26. Earlier that day, he had been picked up from his school by police officers and taken to the Ang Mo Kio Police Division for questioning over the alleged molestation of an 11-year-old girl. He had been identified through closed-circuit television records.

He was later released on bail and went home with his mother.

The case has sparked public debate and drawn much speculation on social media about the police's conduct and the circumstances leading up to Benjamin's death.

Police have said they are reviewing their procedures when young persons are interviewed, including the issue of allowing an appropriate adult to be present.

Seven MPs have filed questions for Mr Shanmugam and Mr Ng on the measures police and schools take to safeguard the interests of young persons who are investigated or arrested.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) wants the Home Affairs Ministry to give an update on the police review.

Mr Ng, who looks after the area where Benjamin lived, told The Straits Times he had attended the boy's wake and met his father and the police, as well as his school principal, and hoped there would be some answers on what happened.

Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) and Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) also want to know if the Home Affairs Ministry could have addressed the speculation on social media about the case in a more timely manner.

MPs have also asked questions about measures to protect Singaporeans against the Zika virus and the proposed alignments of the Cross Island Line.

Several green groups are calling for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to rethink possible plans to build an MRT tunnel under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the country's largest nature reserve.

This comes after the LTA released an environmental impact assessment report earlier this month, which stated "moderate" impact to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve when work on preliminary soil tests for the train line starts in the third quarter of the year.

The Nature Society has suggested an alternative route where the line loops around the southern edges of the reserve. But this means that some land may be acquired and affected residents will have to move.

Mr Louis Ng wants to know if the Transport Ministry will consider the alternative route, while Non- Constituency MP Leon Perera wants to know how the National Development Ministry will mitigate the environmental impact if the train line does run under the nature reserve.

Associate Professor Daniel Goh of the Workers' Party will also be sworn in as the third NCMP on Monday, filling the seat given up by Ms Lee Li Lian, who contested Punggol East SMC in the last election.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2016, with the headline 'Parliament to discuss schoolboy's death'. Print Edition | Subscribe