Attempts to delegitimise police are increasing: Shanmugam

Highlighting use of misinformation, he says enforcement agencies won't be intimidated

When a woman was apprehended earlier this month at shopping mall Novena Square, a video of her being detained was circulated with some claiming that the police had abused their power and arrested her for no reason.

This use of misinformation was an attempt to delegitimise the police, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

Speaking at the Minister's Awards Presentation Ceremony that was held online, he noted that there have been increasing attempts to delegitimise enforcement agencies.

But the police and other agencies will not be intimidated by such moves, he added.

"When the police take action, there are some who will claim that investigations are politically motivated, make other baseless claims about law enforcement processes," he said.

Some people want special exemptions from investigations, especially when the allegations against them are serious, such as those involving criminal breach of trust or sexual harassment, he added.

"But the rule of law applies to all, regardless of who you are."

The minister said the woman detained at Novena Square had spat at a man and bit his hand, after allegedly pouring soup over his head.

The woman also hurled verbal abuse and spat at police officers when they engaged her, and her relatives could not calm her down.

"She was assessed to be posing a danger, to both the public and to herself," Mr Shanmugam said.

Separately, he said a photo showing police officers engaging two madrasah students was misrepresented in July last year.​

  • 189 Number of awards given out at the Minister's Awards Presentation Ceremony, held online yesterday, to the Home Team's outstanding officers, teams and agencies that have demonstrated efficiency and competency in major operations, cases and projects, or displayed high standards of innovation and service excellence at work.

"The photo was circulated to spread a falsehood that the officers were conducting spot checks on the two madrasah students, because the officers had a quota to fulfil."

But the officers, he said, were actually engaging the students to encourage them to participate in Riders-On-Watch, a community policing initiative enacted last year to keep crime out of transport nodes.

In his speech, Mr Shanmugam also highlighted two other key challenges faced by the Home Team: the threat of terrorism, which has not gone away, and the Covid-19 fight.

He said the Home Team, with other agencies, has helped to bring down local community transmission to a low level.

But he warned that the risk of another wave of infection is ever present.

"We have to adapt to this new environment, to ensure that the Home Team delivers on our core mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure," he added.

Yesterday, 189 awards were given out to outstanding officers, teams and agencies that have demonstrated efficiency and competency in major operations, cases and projects, or displayed high standards of innovation and service excellence at work.

The recipients include a team of police officers involved in an operation that saw 21 people arrested for taking part in more than 440 scam cases to do with the sale of face masks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline 'Attempts to delegitimise police are increasing: Shanmugam'. Print Edition | Subscribe