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Confessions of a Protestor, World Consumer Rights’ Day – Protest in front of Parliament House Part 2

The trip towards Police Cantonment Complex was a very fast one.

The route was one which i often took as a lawyer, be it to bail clients / friends or to attend sessions when my clients were interviewed.

The police were ready at Police Cantonment Complex. The barrier was raised and there were extra police officers standing on guard to receive the welcoming of the vans. We drove into the basement carpark. The basement car park was also guarded.

We drove into a de-loading / de-bus bay. The vans reversed into the parking lots and a steel shutter was lowered to shut out the vans from the rest of the car park. A number of fresh police officers stood outside the van.

When it came for time to de-bus three police officers brought Selan out first. They seemed to be unsure of what to do and then in a moment of haplessness asked us to stay right there where we were. Van doors open but steel shutters down. [a thought crossed my mind – did they tell Mas Selamat Kastari this as well prior to this escape?] After a while we were asked to move one by one out of the van and into the premises.

There were steel gates everywhere. Corridors had seel gates locking down wherever we passed. My mind begins to wonder – how did Mas Selamat Kastari escape?

We were asked to empty our pockets and put them into a transparent bag. The process was a tedious process. As there were a number of us, the police took a substantial amount of time to process us.

One of the police officers had trouble securing the transparent bag which now contained my belongings. Minutes passed. He was obviously fumbling with the plastic fastener and the bag. I tried to offer some advice to shorten the agony. A staff sergeant stepped in to demonstrate the process and finally the constable succeeded in securing my plastic bag of belongings.

We were then asked to move into a lock up room. It was a brightly lit and big empty room with steel bars on the sides of one wall. As we were processed and put into the room. John Tan was finally brought in. John had been bound with his hands behind his back with extremely menacing looking plastic handcuffs. The handcuffs were clearly and deliberately tightened to the point where there was discomfort caused.

John looked a bit pale. He was obviously in discomfort. We were outraged and disgusted at the actions of the police. The police had attempted to protray a soft side infront of the eyes of the public and the media. But within the walls of a police van and within Police Cantonment Complex, it was all a different story.

Dr. Chee demanded that the handcuffs be removed. John was unarmed. John was not violent. The policemen outnumbered us. We were in the lock up and we were not resisting. So why was John put in plastic handcuffs? Station Inspector Tan Kok Ann was the man in charge, he was the one who was supposed to keep us under control. Station Inspector Tan and Dr. Chee exchanged some firm words about the need to release John from the handcuffs. Siok Chin was also firm in dealing with the police. When the cuffs were finally removed, it was clear that John felt unwell, we then led him to the bench to be seated.

John was asked if he needed medical attention. True as a fighter was. John brushed away the need. The police did question us before we took our statements whether we we injured and needed any medical examination. All of us dismissed the need for medical attention. There was nothing too rough for us to handle despite the deliberate manhandling. There might have been some scratches and bruises on John and scratches on Sylvester and myself but it was nothing to cry about.

The lockup had windows. Transparent windows. It faced the guardroom. Inside the guardroom were as many as 4 – 8 policemen. When they processed us there were as many as 8 policemen standing nearby at the corridor. As we were being processed, they can put as many as 3 policemen in the lockup with us. Just to stand there and watch us. They had also put as many as 3 policemen watching us through the glass windows when the locked room was secured.

[You begin to wonder – how the hell did Mas Selamat Kastari escape? we were non-violent citizen activists and they place us under the eye of so many policemen]

[You begin to wonder – whether the Singapore Police Force had grostesquely misplaced priorities]

to be continued with part 3 on visits to the toilet.

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March 16, 2008 - Posted by | Politics

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