Home Affairs Minister gives MHA’s side of the story in the Benjamin Lim case
He made a Ministerial Statement in Parliament regarding this case.
If you were following the case of 14-year-old Benjamin Lim who committed suicide hours after being questioned by the police for allegedly molesting an 11-year-old girl, you probably got most of the comings and goings from The Online Citizen (TOC).
This is so as TOC has been publishing numerous articles regarding this case, such as the open letter from the deceased boy’s father and also a separate report noting that Lim was unaccompanied when interviewed.
In parliament on March 1, 2016, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam delivered a Ministerial Statement in Parliament on the investigation and provided the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)’s side of how events unfolded — in particular, addressing the various allegations made online regarding this case.
Here is a table comparing the information gleaned from TOC’s articles against what the Home Affairs Minister said in Parliament:
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|On the alleged molest
– Open letter published by TOC said this: “She (Benjamin’s mother) then asked him about the alleged offence, he denied. When asked why he admitted to the police when he did not do it, he said “they said I am guilty, so I am guilty lor”. Benjamin was then told that he should not have admitted to the crime if he did not do it.”
|On the alleged molest
– CCTV footage showed Benjamin Lim and the 11-year-old girl within the same lift.
– Lim had admitted to the police that he touched a part of the girl’s body.
– The girl told the police that a boy she had never met before had touched a part of her body.
|Plainclothes police officers wore T-shirts with ‘Police’ at its back
– Parent of a student studying at the same secondary school told TOC that her son saw officers wearing T-shirts with the word ‘Police’ on their backs.
– In the same article, TOC said it had reached out to the police for comment and would update after a response. The parent of the student had left a post on the Singapore Police Force’s Facebook page.
|Officers were not in uniform
– All five officers that went to the school in plain clothes, were not in any attire with the word ‘Police’, and in unmarked cars
– TOC had supposedly relied on a posting by one Mary Anne Pereira who claimed that her son saw police officers with Polo T-shirts.
– Police had checked with Pereira and she said she had gotten it wrong. She has taken down her post.
|Number of police officers handling Lim at the school – 5
– In the TOC article “14-year-old jumps to his death after unaccompanied police interrogation”, TOC noted that “Five-plainclothes police officers picked Benjamin up from school during school hours”.
– In the open letter published on TOC, Lim’s father wrote: “The school, in my opinion, should never have handed over my son to five police officers during recess hours without having to wait for the arrival of family members.”
|Number of police officers handling Lim at the school – not more than 3 at any time
– Lim was brought to the Principal’s office by a school official where one police officer spoke with Lim, with some of the school’s educators present. The four other police officers were not present.
– Lim was brought to Ang Mo Kio Police Station by three police officers in an unmarked car.
– Lim was then interviewed by one officer in an open plan office in the Ang Mo Kio Police Station.
|Lim was denied food and drink
– The open letter said: “When Benjamin finally left the police station at 2.50pm, he told his mother and sister that he was not given anything to eat, nothing to drink throughout the 3 or more hours of engagement with police investigators in the police station.”
|Lim was offered food and drink
– He was offered food and drink after the interview but declined.
In his statement, Minister Shanmugam went into greater detail the events that occurred on Jan. 26, the day Lim was interviewed by the police and subsequently took his own life.
He said that there was nothing so far to suggest that Lim was mistreated by the police. He added that with the facts that were given to him, the police officers involved carried out their duties faithfully and in accordance with protocol.
He also said that, at present, it cannot be said that Lim’s interview with the police was the specific reason for his suicide, and that suicides often involve a complex set of factors.
Top photo: Screenshot from video