Be careful of spreading untrue stories that will cause unnecessary alarm: K. Shanmugam on recent 'kidnap scares'

Several international schools, mainly in the Dover area, sent letters to parents urging them to be vigilant after they came to know of students allegedly being lured into vehicles.
Several international schools, mainly in the Dover area, sent letters to parents urging them to be vigilant after they came to know of students allegedly being lured into vehicles.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The public should be careful of spreading untrue stories and causing unnecessary alarm, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said on Monday (Jan 22), amid recent claims of attempted kidnapping at international schools here.

Last week, several international schools, mainly in the Dover area, sent letters to parents urging them to be vigilant after they came to know of students allegedly being lured into vehicles.

The two incidents at the United World College (UWC) South-East Asia Dover campus and Tanglin Trust School, which were reported to the police, were later found to be merely instances of drivers trying to be helpful by offering the students a lift.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Shanmugam noted that there were "stories and concerns" about two female students who were offered lifts by strangers in the Dover neighbourhood.

In one of the incidents, a female student was walking to school from one-north MRT station when she was approached by two people in a white van - said to be driven by a woman - who asked her to get in.

Mr Shanmugam said that while some media reports have called the incidents "kidnap scares", this is untrue as "the van provides transport services for the school, (and) takes students to and from the school".

He added: "Police have investigated both incidents thoroughly, interviewed the persons involved. There were no kidnap attempts."

Amid a heightened sense of worry faced by parents and students, the police said in an update last Thursday that the female bus attendant had offered the student a ride as the vehicle was heading to the school.

The school bus, however, did not bear the name or logo of the school, they said.

Mr Shanmugam stressed that while it is important for young children to be taught to be careful when approached by strangers, there is also a need to be careful of spreading untrue stories and unnecessarily alarming parents.