Public urged to be wary of causing alarm unnecessarily

The public should be careful of spreading untrue stories and causing unnecessary alarm, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday, amid recent claims of attempted kidnapping at international schools.

Last week, several international schools, mainly in Dover area, sent letters to parents, urging them to be vigilant, after students reported attempts to lure them into vehicles.

Two incidents at the United World College South East Asia Dover campus and Tanglin Trust School, which were reported to the police, were found to be instances of drivers trying to be helpful by offering the students a lift.

In the case involving the Tanglin Trust School student, it was initially reported that she was walking to school from an MRT station when two people in a van told her to get in.

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

The police said last Thursday that a female bus attendant had offered the Tanglin Trust School 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.

Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2018, with the headline 'Public urged to be wary of causing alarm unnecessarily'. Subscribe