The Police has released a second statement about the incident of an alleged harsh treatment of a 73-year-old woman who was recently arrested. The woman, who was identified by the Police as Madam Josephine Savarimuthu, was arrested when she went to make a police report at the Ang Mo Kio South Neighbourhood Police Centre about a lost pawn shop ticket.
The woman had a warrant of arrest issued against her on a town council related matter. The warrant of arrest was issued in 2015 for “the wrongful placement of potted plants outside her flat, which amounted to an offence involving a $400 fine.”
The daughter of Madam Savarimuthu who brought the issue of treatment of elderly citizens who are arrested to public attention via a letter to the Straits Times Forum Page, asked the Police and relevant government agencies to relook procedures for arresting elderly citizens.
The Police issued a joint statement with the Singapore Prison Services on the events leading up to the arrests and how she was treated to the newspaper yesterday.
The Police subsequently issued another statement in their Facebook on the arrest and treatment of the senior citizen.
In their second statement, the Police said that they have reached out to the daughter, Madam Gertrude Simon, and invited her to view the video footages from Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras and the Body-Worn Cameras on the Police officers, at her convenience.
The statement further claimed that “these video footages showed clearly that Mdm Savarimuthu was not restrained at any time when in Police custody. The video footages also showed that she was alert, coherent and communicative when in Police custody and did not appear to be distressed.”
Prominent netizens who responded to the second Police statement have slammed it as misleading.
Mr Daniel Yap, publisher of The Middle Ground, in responding to the Police’s FB post said: “Actually it’s technically correct. The prison services said that they placed her in hand-and-foot restraints when transferring her. I suppose to the layman there isn’t much difference between the police and the prison service during an arrest situation.”
A former editor of The Online Citizen, Mr Andrew Loh, asked for further clarification from the Police: “But she was restrained when in Prison Service’s custody, right? This was what the Straits Times reported. Pls clarify. Tks.”
Prominent online commenter and lawyer, Lian Chuan Yeoh’s comments on the Police’s post were perhaps the most scathing:
“The ST reported that Police and Prison Service confirmed in a joint statement that Madam Josephine was in fact handcuffed and restrained whilst being transferred.
“A joint statement by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) last night said she was not restrained by the police, and this was done only when she was transferred to prison as part of standard procedures.”
Furthermore, Madam Gertrude Simon’s letter of 15 March said :
“… when my mother was moved between the police station, CWP and the court, she was handcuffed and had leg restraints on.”
I read the letter several times and found no claim that said Police handcuffed the elderly lady, except for the purposes of transfer, which the Police and SPS statement seems to have confirmed.
Even if Mrs Simon’s words were not 100% precise – which is not in the least obvious – the main thrust of her comment seems to me not effectively rebutted by SPF’s post above.
In the circumstances, the Police’s above post is at the least misleading, if not Trumpian Fake News!”