Yang Kaiheng, the former editor of the now defunct The Real Singapore (TRS) has taken to Facebook to recount how he was treated when he was in the lock-up of the State Court. He said that he was writing about his experience in view of what blogger Han Hui Hui had alleged.
Ms Han had on 23 Feb, alleged in a blog post ‘Alone in cell’ about mistreatments which she and her fellow female prisoners were put through while awaiting transfer to Changi Prison. The Ministry of Home Affairs has dismissed her allegations as ‘baseless and false’.
Just in case you are not able to see Mr Yang’s post, this is what he said.
On the points mentioned by Ms Han Hui Hui about her treatment at the State court lock up, I thought I might as well summarize my own experience in the following 5 points:
I was only strip searched once at the State Court lock up in the basement during the evening before I was transported to Changi Prison. The officers were professional in explaining what is the purpose of the strip search to everyone and reemphasized that it is not their purpose to humiliate us but to ensure the safety of everyone in the cells. I was quite shy at first but got used to it over the following few months as we have to strip butt naked everyday before going down for yard. Anyway, because of this experience I finally overcome my fear of being naked with strangers at the Onsens in Japan.
I was given a packet of mixed vegetable rice sometime around noon at the court lockup. The food was handed to me properly by the AETOS officers and it was a packet of lemon sauce fish fillet, sliced white cabbage and rice. I thought the food was pretty decent and the rice was cooked al-dente. In fact, it could even beat some of the sticky, glue-like rice served in some bad coffeeshop mixed vegetable rice stalls outside.
Male and Female segregation
All female inmates were locked up completely separately in another area and there are no male officers there. Even the transportation of male and female prisoners is done separately. During strip search, a giant curtain is drawn and I don’t think anyone could have seen me naked other than the officer conducting the strip search and a few other fellow inmates beside me. There is practically zero interaction between males and females in the lock-up and in prison, whether it be inmate-inmate or officer-inmate. Where there are officers of the opposite gender it is definitely not during strip searches.
What Ms Han Hui Hui said about no toilet paper and tissue given during State Court lock up is totally true. I requested for toilet paper but the officer told me politely that they don’t actually provide tissue in lock up as this is only a temporary stay location and you will be transferred to Changi or be released on bail in a few hours time. He suggested that I wash myself with the water which comes out of a little hole in the wall beside the toilet bowl. That is the first time in my adult life when I shit then used water to wash… I have to admit, it felt pretty good and so much cleaner than wiping with toilet paper.
Officer Treatment of Inmates
All the officers I encountered at lock up seems to be professionally trained and know how to communicate effectively with inmates of all nationalities. I do admit, most of the AETOS officers I encountered were Malaysians with only the older officers being Singaporeans. But hey, don’t complain so much la, Malaysians is just like us Singaporeans yo, they look and sound exactly as us. I did actually encounter a young AETOS officer who made fun of the minorities in particular the Bangladeshi people who mostly overstayed their visa in Singapore. However, most of these negative teasing limits only to laughing at them for not being able to speak and understand english, calling foreigners as “aliens” and did not go any further into any other form of verbal abuse. Aiya, but c’mon la these officers don’t have diploma or degree in hospitality and tourism so you can’t actually set such a high standard for them anyway right? Many of these officers are very young and are no difference from our Singaporeans youngsters these days too.
However, I am actually quite impressed that not a single word of vulgarities was heard from the officers during my entire lock-up and prison experience despite some inmates constantly hurling vulgarities at the officers.
Hope my post can clear the air on some of her “allegations”.