Allegations of police abuse by two former SMRT bus drivers 'baseless': MHA

Allegations of police abuse by two former SMRT bus drivers involved in a strike last November have been found to be baseless, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement on Saturday.

The drivers, Chinese nationals He Jun Ling and Liu Xiangying, had alleged in online video clips posted in January that they were slapped, punched and threatened by police officers while in custody.

But in statements recorded by police officers from the Internal Affairs Office (IAO) in February and last month, both men retracted their allegations, the MHA said.

The IAO also examined all available evidence related to the case and interviewed 10 people believed to be involved or to have knowledge of the allegations, before concluding that the charges were baseless.

The MHA said that prior to the January videos, neither He nor Liu had made any allegations of physical abuse even though they had opportunities to do so.

"They could have raised the issue at any time while they were in police lock-up, when they were charged in court on November 29 or after they were released on bail on December 6," said the MHA.

It added that He had been examined by a doctor on Dec 4 for gastric pain, less than a week after the alleged incidents, but did not tell the doctor of the alleged abuse. Neither did He, Liu or their lawyers raise the allegations in court on Dec 19, it said. The police also did not receive any complaints from the Chinese Embassy regarding the strikers.

"Even after the video was released, neither He nor Liu nor their lawyers reported the allegations to the authorities. Their lawyers would have known that the proper procedure was for them raise the matter in court, or to file a formal complaint with the police," the MHA said.

When the IAO contacted them on Feb 2, both men declined to give statements, the MHA said. The Attorney-General's Chambers wrote to their lawyers two days later, informing them of the investigations into the allegations. "Rather than assisting, Mr Remy Choo Zheng Xi, acting for He, wrote to the Prosecution to request that the police refrain from commencing investigations into the allegations," the MHA said.

Following the IAO's findings, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean said that the investigations had "vindicated" the officers in the case.

"We take allegations of police abuse very seriously, especially when they are lodged, and investigate them thoroughly... However, we should also stand up for our officers when individuals or groups who break our laws or condone illegal actions, make baseless, false allegations against them," he said.