Spread falsehoods about police? Action will be taken

Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam said that the police are not immune to making mistakes, saying public servants who commit crimes have faced the consequences.
Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam said that the police are not immune to making mistakes, saying public servants who commit crimes have faced the consequences. PHOTO: ST FILE

Those who deliberately spread falsehoods about the police and other public institutions will soon be taken to task, Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

"The time has come for us not to simply rebut, but to actively deal with it, so that the people who seek to profit from such conduct will actually feel the pain of it," he said. "We are looking at it and something will be done."

He was replying to Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who asked if the police would consider taking action to protect their reputation when false and malicious allegations are made.

Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, cited a recent public perception survey where over nine in 10 people said the police demonstrated core values of courage, loyalty and integrity. This has led to an "enormous reservoir of trust".

Consequently, the police will investigate any allegation thoroughly and issue a public response rebutting the allegations if they are untrue, he said. He noted that sociopolitical website The Online Citizen "in particular glorifies in running the police down with a series of untrue stories", and cited a recent instance where it falsely alleged that police officers had accused a wheelchair user of motorcycle theft.

 
 

Mr Shanmugam noted that the police are not immune to making mistakes, saying public servants who commit crimes have faced the consequences. Genuine feedback could sometimes be made in error.

But what is objectionable are deliberate falsehoods, he stressed.

"If there is no wrongdoing or misconduct and you deliberately accuse to pull down the institution by manufacturing lies, and if public trust in police is eroded and they can no longer enforce rule of law effectively, all of us will be the worse for it," he said.

Rachel Au-Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2017, with the headline 'Spread falsehoods about police? Action will be taken'. Print Edition | Subscribe