We’ve been warned – sternly

Aug 02, 2016 07.00PM |

by Bertha Henson

SO THERE we were, Daniel and I, at Clementi Police Division at 10 minutes to 3pm today, exchanging our pink ICs for visitor passes strung on some really smelly red lanyards which seemed to have been infused with the perspiration of a hundred people.

Disdaining to drape the lanyard round his neck, Daniel held his pass in hand, never mind signs that said we should wear them. Me? I was very law-abiding. I switched the lanyard for another I had with me, and wore it with the pass. I seriously swear that our trip to the police to receive a “stern warning” will forever be marked by the smell of those lanyards.

Anyway, we were told to wait in the lobby, like errant students hauled up to meet the school’s principal. Except that the room we were ushered into was extremely small with just two chairs and a table. Poor Daniel had to stand. Then the chief investigation officer told us that we would be administered “a stern warning in lieu of prosecution”. He looked the part – very stern-looking and all that.

The offence was for “publishing the results of an election survey during the prescribed blackout period”. To be more specific, this referred to the campaign period of the Bukit Batok by-election from April 27 to May 5. To the unaware, this is not about Cooling Off Day, which disallows any commentary on any platform. This is about how, according to the Parliamentary Elections Act, you cannot publish a survey of voters once a writ of election has been issued. You can read what happened here, here, and here.

After interviewing nine of us in TMG, the police decided that the key culprits were editor and publisher – which is as it should be. It would have been terrible to think that any of our interns or young people would have further dealings with law enforcement over this matter when they were simply following orders. There was another notice that was administered to the company, which Daniel signed.

Then we each signed off on our individual one-page Notice of Warning while Daniel signed another administered to the company.

In a small and hopefully deferential voice, I asked if this would mean any kind of record for us. (Actually I already know the answer, but much better to get it confirmed.) I was assured that it wasn’t a criminal record, but one for the police books because, as the warning letter says “if you commit any offence in future, the same leniency may not be shown towards you”.

We’re glad that this is over, because it hasn’t been very comfortable putting “Yes” in application forms which asked if you were currently under any kind of police investigation.

Before you ask, yes, it was very civilised and amicable and our experience with the police has not in any way been like that of other commentators in similar circumstances.

They treated us nice. We treated them nice. It was all very nicely done indeed. Now we have to decide whether to file or frame the Notice.


Featured image from TMG file.

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