WP's Faisal Manap seeks clarity on police response to appeals, Shanmugam & Sun Xueling respond

All appeals will be assessed on their own merit.

Sulaiman Daud | March 05, 2019, 05:19 PM

Some clarity was sought by the Workers' Party (WP) Vice-Chair Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap on Singapore Police Force's procedure in replying to appeals.

The discussion took place during the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on March 1.

On March 4, WP shared a Channel NewsAsia video on its Facebook page that showed the exchange between Faisal, and PAP MPs Sun Xueling and K. Shanmugam.

The video post's caption read:

"APPEALS TO POLICE: Why is it that a PAP Branch Chairman's appeal on behalf of an Aljunied GRC resident was acknowledged by the Police, while that of a WP Non-Constituency MP written on behalf a resident in the constituency he contested in GE2015 was not processed?

Watch Sun Xueling and K Shanmugam respond to Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap during the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Vid credit: Channel NewsAsia."

Question asked of standard procedure

Faisal asked why did the police respond to the appeal by the PAP Party Branch Chairman, but not the WP NCMP:

"Sir, I would like to ask the ministry on the Singapore Police Force’s Standard practice in replying to appeals made by a Member of Parliament or a Grassroots Adviser.

My NCMP colleague once made an appeal on behalf of a member of the public who lives in the constituency he contested in General Election 2015. However, the appeal was not accepted. I would like to quote the reply from SPF, 'We regret that we are unable to process the appeal, as a Government organisation can only consider representations from MPs/Advisers to Grassroots Organisation on behalf of their constituents'.

Sir, on the other hand, it has come to my attention recently through SPF’s reply letter to one of my residents that SPF acknowledged the PAP Party Branch Chaiman’s appeal and a carbon copy of the reply, which was addressed to my resident, was sent to the PAP Party Branch Chairman.

Sir, a PAP Party Branch Chairman is appointed by a political party. I am therefore surprised as to why the SPF acknowledged the appeal from a PAP Party Branch Chairman, whereas the appeal from an NCMP was not accepted. Sir, I seek clarity on the matter."

All appeals assessed on merit

In her speech, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Sun Xueling responded to Faisal's call for clarification:

"Lastly, I would like to address Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap’s question about the Police’s standard procedure in replying to appeals.

The police will consider all proper representations which include representations from elected MPs and from grassroots advisers (GRA) on behalf of their own constituents, and their grassroots leaders.

All appeals will be assessed on their own merit. Representations by non-elected MPs such as Non-Constituency MPs and Nominated MPs will be treated as personal appeals by the appellants."

The police are clear about responding to appeals

Faisal then had a follow-up question, and asked:

"Sir, I do hear clearly SPS mentioned grassroots advisers and elected Members of Parliament, but my question (was) how does MHA respond to a PAP party branch chairman appeal, on behalf of an individual."

The Minister for Home Affairs himself, K. Shanmugam, then replied:

"Does Mr Faisal have the letter? And if you do, can you please first check the facts and see if the person was also a GRA. Because police are very clear, they will respond to MPs, they will respond to grassroots advisers, doesn't matter if they have any other positions.

But I think you should check and let us know whether that person is also a grassroots adviser. And I'm sure he would have been. Right? Thank you."

Letter signed by PAP party branch chairman

Faisal responded:

"Sir, I can confirm that the person that I mentioned is a grassroots adviser, but the letter -

(Shanmugam: That's the answer.)

But the letter that I have with me, the signatory is of a PAP party branch chairman. It doesn't, wasn't mentioned any appointment as a grassroots adviser."

Shanmugam then finished off by saying:

"The police will respond like other government agencies to MPs and grassroots advisers, regardless of any other appointments they may hold. Thank you."

Seeking clarity

In other words, the police will draw a distinction between elected MPs, and non-elected MPs such as Nominated MPs and Non-Constituency MPs.

Therefore, the police will treat appeals from the NMPs and NCMPs as personal ones, while a grassroots adviser signing off the appeal letter in the capacity as a PAP party branch chairman will be considered by the police.

Top image adapted from Channel NewsAsia's video