Socio-political news website The Online Citizen (TOC) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) had a run-in this week.
The story: An allegation from a person who wrote to TOC that police officers accused her 80-year-old wheelchair-bound father of stealing a motorcycle.
The incident happened on January 17 this year.
Here’s the sequence of what happened in chronological order, based on the exchange between TOC and the police:
January 17, 2017:
1) TOC’s Chief editor Terry Xu receives an emailed complaint from a reader they called “Alice”.
According to the report they ran on March 16, the details in summary are:
– A newspaper delivery man asked the complainant’s father (who is 80, and wheelchair-bound from a stroke) if he could leave his motorcycle in the latter’s front lawn. He agreed.
– According to the reader, three policemen then showed up, allegedly accusing him of stealing the motorbike.
– The reader added that her father claimed the police officers asked him to go to the police station to make a statement, but he refused.
– The officers then left the man’s house with the motorcycle.
2) According to a screenshot of an email he sent to the SPF’s Feedback Unit, Xu forwarded it to them, seeking comment, at 6:42pm that day:
March 16, 2017:
3) TOC runs the story as-is, here. In it, he added:
“The Online Citizen wrote to Singapore Police Force (SPF) on the same day to enquire about the incident, but two months after, SPF has yet given a reply on the matter.
Alice replied to TOC in a follow up query, Lol. ‘If the police do reply, they are brave. It is terribly embarrassing for them, in my opinion. I am still laughing at the idiocy of the incident. Better than dumb and dumber. Lol.'”
Here’s their Facebook post with the story:
March 17, 2017:
4) The police respond a day later, in a Facebook status at about 10pm Friday:
Here are the details they shared:
– The Police officers were responding to a case of motor vehicle theft at Mayflower Terrace (the location of the original letter writer’s home, where the motorcycle was found).
– They interviewed a wheelchair-bound man at his home as part of the investigations.
– They also deny accusing him of being involved in any theft, much less of the motorcycle; nor was he asked to provide a statement at the police station, they added.
5) In a comment on the post, TOC provided the screenshot from their email above, with the following:
March 18, 2017:
6) TOC followed up at about 2am Saturday with a Facebook post detailing their response to the Police:
In response to other comments on the post, TOC noted that the point currently in contention is not that the actual incident happened, but what the police officers said to the old man:
There are people on both sides of the fence in this case.
Some feel the Police wouldn’t have responded if TOC didn’t publish the original account of what happened first, while others feel the police has no obligation to do so while their investigation is ongoing, and that TOC should not have published unsubstantiated claims, especially from an anonymous source.
Whichever the case, the above are the information that were revealed by the three parties involved — TOC, the complainant’s father, and the police.
The fact is that the incident occurred. The other fact is one or two parties are providing “alternative facts”, we just do not know who.
Top image adapted from TOC, SPF