I tot of Benjamin Lim and his family when I read the following on CNA
‘Family an important building block of society’: PM Lee in CNY message
In his Chinese New Year message on Sunday (Feb 7), Mr Lee said that the Government will continue to support Singaporeans “in the many responsibilities and joys of parenthood”, adding that he hoped to see more babies born in the new year.
Come on PM: pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it. Sadly, it’s not funny.
Whatever comes out of the investigations into Benjamin Lim’s suicide one thing is already very clear.
The SOPs of the police and MoE and the actions of their officers show that MoE and the police, they do not believe that parents’ have rights and that teenagers can be very fragile people*.
On the latter first.
A school is a kampung so why did the police commander send in five policemen in plainclothes (with some allegedly wearing tee-shirts with the word “POLICE”, which if true defeats the purpose of wearing mufti) in two unmarked cars? Two cars with five persons coming into the school compound during recess is sure to attract attention. And more when all or most of them head for principal’s office. Furthermore remember that students are observant and will notice the guns being carried under mufti.
If I were a student, I’d find a legitimate excuse to get into the general office which I assume is adjacent and connected to the principal’s office.
And then students will notice a schoolmate being escorted in by the student counsellor. They will notice that he’s being rushed as he is carrying his lunch into the office (a no-no in normal circumstances). Why liddatt?
I’d have lied to get into the general office. I know someone was in big trouble.
And while, we don’t know how Benjamin Lim was escorted out, we can guess based on pictures from ST etc on how suspects are escorted by the police. There’ll be one person in front, one on each side of the suspect and one behind.
Students would say, “Double confirm! Ben’s in big, big trouble!”
My point is that students are very observant, can put “two and two together”, gossip a lot and love teasing (I can imagine the teasing he’d face). This is something that the police and the school officials couldn’t be bothered to think about when they did what they did.
So the police should have been a lot more discrete. Three officers in one car and only one to into the general, principal office. And turn up when lessons are in progress, so that there’s no crowd to see what’s happening.
And so could have the school: the counsellor should let him eat his food before escorting him to the office.
As to the rights of parents, why couldn’t the police wait for the parents to come to the school to accompany the student to the police station. It really wasn’t a “time is of the essence kind of investigation”. It was not as though he was suspected of planting a bomb that was going to go off at any moment, killing or hurting people.
I found the initial police response via a retired cop chilling. He said the law allowed to the policemen do what he did and thaz the end of the story. And he’s supposed to be a police “ambassador” to the public?
As for MoE’s disregard for the rights of parents (Schools must comply with the law, duty of care to parents is secondary: my interpretation of MoE’s remarks to the media), I can do no better than quote what Dr Wong Souk Yee Chairperson of the SDP wrote:”School officials must be aware that their duty is, first and foremost, to protect students’ welfare as well as their families’ interests. Doing this would not impede law enforcement officers from carrying out their duty. It would, on the other hand, help to prevent tragedies like Benjamin’s suicide from taking place.”
“Family an important building block of society”
And that the Government will continue to support Singaporeans “in the many responsibilities and joys of parenthood”
are to mean anything, heads must role, and procedures relooked.
For example I’m told that it’s SOP that five policemen should be sent to arrest any one person. Commanders have discretion but they know that if anything goes wrong, they’ll be asked, “Why no five officers? Don’t know SOP isit?” Want to be her isit?” So they always send five.
“Even if the police were concerned that Benjamin would not be co-operative and could overpower the officers and escape, how far could he have run? And even if he did make a getaway, did the police not have his family, school and classmates that they could contact?” Dr Wong wrote.
Come on PM, pull the other leg: it’s got bells on it.
Sadly, it’s not funny.
*Not all of them are brats like Amos Yee and not all parents are as irresponsible like his Mother Mary.