8 pieces of real advice to remember by an ex-ISA detainee, the next time the S'pore police come a-knocking

This could save your life.

Belmont Lay| October 11, 03:22 PM

It was reported that several people, including attendees and a co-organiser, have been asked to assist in police investigations on Oct. 10, 2014, in relation to the Return Our CPF protest held at Hong Lim Park on Sept. 27.

Apparently, the police had personally turned up at the homes of several of those called up, to deliver a letter late at night and during the early hours of the morning to notify them to go to the Police Cantonment Complex a few hours later to assist in the probe.

This has prompted former Internal Security Act detainee Teo Soh Lung to write a Facebook post, dishing out advice on what one should do in the event the police show up at your door.

Here is what Teo wrote:

Just in case more people are being hauled up to the police station, here are some quick points to note.

Every activist is prone to being summoned to the police station, usually to answer questions relating to the commission of an alleged offence. It is pretty routine and there is nothing to fear. Sometimes the police goes on a fishing trip hoping to catch someone through the statements collected from various people. Sometimes it is pure harassment.

An activist must be prepared for interviews at police stations. These are not to be taken lightly. There are a few basic things that he/she has to remember when summoned to answer about the commission of an alleged offence.


Letters to attend at police station

Letters from the police to attend an interview need not be physically delivered. They can be posted through ordinary snail mail. But often, the police have a lot of time in their hands and they may take a drive to your house. But this must never be midnight or early hours of the morning. If they do that, it is harassment and an abuse of police power.

Never open doors at midnight. Call the police and your friends. If they continue to bang loudly, telephone your friends for help. They should video the police outside your door. Have a Apps group so that one message goes out to the entire group.

It is possible to request for interviews to be conducted at a police station in your neighbourhood or near your home. If the appointment is not suitable, you can request for a change.



Never attend an interview alone. Always bring a friend or two. Your friend cannot be in the interview room but he can wait at the reception. If this is not possible, inform reliable friends to keep track of your attendance at the police station. Give them the particulars of police station and telephone number. If possible, the name of the officer in charge. Your friends should call the police station or officer regularly for updates.

1. Keep your friends informed of developments, whether through telephone calls, facebook or messages.

2. Wear comfortable warm clothings and shoes. If your interview is at the Cantonment Police HQ, it is very cold. You can request the officer to turn up the air-conditioner if you cannot bear the cold.

3. You are entitled to request for hot drinks and snacks if you are hungry. If your interview takes hours, you are also entitled to request for lunch and dinner.

4. Take toilet breaks.

5. Bring paper and pen to record the questions and answers. As most of you know, Han Hui Hui had her notebook (the paper notebook not the computer) taken away after the interview. The police has no power to retain your properties as you have not committed any offence.

6. Request for a copy of your signed statement if you sign any statement. Often, the police will refuse to give this to you. In that case, you can refuse to sign the statement. There is no rule to say that statements given to the police must be signed.

7. Han Hui Hui was questioned from 2 to 10 pm. Eight hours is a long time and a bad reflection of the standard of our police force. I suspect that there was no pressure from outside to compel the police to finish their work earlier. If friends and family members telephone the police or attend at the police station earlier, this long interview may have been avoided.

8. Keep your answers short and never volunteer statements. If you have no knowledge, say so.

This is just a brief note.


Poet-playwright Alfian Sa'at also contributed his own advice in response to Teo's Facebook note:

Very important, do share. The more this whole 'investigation by police' thing is demystified, the less fear they can strike in all of us. If I can add just a few things though: when the police first appear at your door, or give you a phone call, they will first introduce themselves, and then the next thing is they'll ask: 'you know why we're here/why we're calling you, right?'

Even if you have some vague suspicion of what it could be, just say no. It is very tempting to offer possible reasons at this point because you're probably quite shocked and would like to co-operate as much as possible. But stay calm and say you don't know. Let the officer spell out exactly what the reason is, so they can sound preposterous doing so. The next thing is to have your diary/calendar at hand. There is an appointment date and time, but this is not an inflexible summons. If you can't make it at the date and time suggested, ask for it to be rescheduled. You don't have to work your schedule around the police's--you're the one 'assisting' them in their investigations.

Remember that spooks thrive on superstition and ignorance. :)


Original posts can be found here:


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