Benjamin Lim case- who’s ignoring the facts?

Have been following this explosive suicide case reported in the last few days. This boy Benjamin Lim was accused of molesting an 11-year-old girl. He committed suicide on the day he was caught. What led to his suicide?

I can imagine how the parents feel about losing the boy. Nothing can bring him back. I really feel for them. So I can understand why they have refused to accept certain facts even though the evidence is overwhelming. But I read some of my friends’ postings the last few days and I am surprised by their lack of understanding of what this public inquiry is all about.

The most sexy narrative so far spun by a lot of people – mostly people who dislike the police or the Government- is this: the boy didn’t commit the crime and the police intimidated the kid into confessing and causing him to commit suicide. That is something that attracts clicks and ad dollars for the websites carrying it. All the conspiracy theories.

Reading the news reports in the last few days however, I have arrived at this conclusion: The evidence of the boy committing the crime is just too overwhelming.

What do we have so far?

First, the boy has issues. Even at risk of suicide at one point. According to the New Paper report, the court heard he had a history of emotional disorder during his childhood. At seven, he would scratch himself when he was angry or anxious and be physically aggressive when upset. Because of his behaviour, he was diagnosed with an emotional disorder by a psychiatrist and counselled for anger management. His teacher found a note once that said “I want to die’’. In a Facebook post two years ago, Benjamin also said “Life is meaningless’’ and that his school was full of gangsters. I wonder if he was also a victim of bullies with low self-esteem.

Second, the boy has no reason to be going to the block that the victim was going. He followed her to her block instead of his own block. He claimed he got lost. I find it hard to believe that one can get lost from a block not far away from home. Also, he said he thought he went to his own block, and yet he pressed the 13th floor button when his own flat is on the 14th floor. He obviously followed her to the block with intent to molest. He has no business to be there. And if he has friends in the block, he wouldn’t have left the block immediately. The element of motive is very strong.

He dropped his phone near the girl and touched her. If he didn’t touch her, the girl wouldn’t have known. The girl doesn’t know him. She has no motive to incriminate him. And she cried after the incident. She appears truthful. It is understandable for parents who have lost their kid not to accept certain hard truths. Our child will always be the precious innocent one. I do not blame the father for disputing the case.

Next, the police has no need to intimidate him into confession. They have video evidence. And the boy confessed after thinking over it. They were not likely to convict him anyway. There is no coveted prize for the police for such a conviction.

Two other incidents which the media reported may shed some light to what led to the suicide. One, the mother was upset and raised her voice when the boy spoke to her at the school on the phone. Those who saw said the boy was visibly distressed after the call. No one knew exactly what happened between the boy and his mother from the time he left with his mum till the point he jumped. I read all the reports online, no one ever questioned if the mother had anything to do with it. Under such circumstances, who are the ones most likely to go hard on the kid?

Second, that last phone call from the school to confirm the boy’s withdrawal from the school camp. It was less than five minutes between the phone call and the suicide.

To me, I think enough has been said on the molest case itself, whether he is guilty or not. The police also appears to have conducted the case with reasonable care. It is sad that the boy chose that wrong route and decided to end his life. The whole affair is a highly emotional one. It is understandable people chose the popular narrative and ignored the facts.

But what is more important now? What I hope to see from the police and members of the public are twofold.

One, I hope we could improve on the police procedures in interviewing teenagers for criminal offences. Given the evidence so far, the suicide appears to have little to do with the police interview. But there is still a strong case for the police to have acceptable protocols so that they do not expose themselves to such unnecessary allegations. Some sort of independent party should be introduced to such questionings at the station – I don’t know, maybe a counsellor, independent legal counsellor or whoever who can guide the kid without interfering with the police work. Essentially protecting the kid’s rights. I don’t know who will look into that.

Second, I also hope more sympathy is given to the victim as well – she is the real victim but a lot of attention had been given to the accused because he took his own life. I wish the women’s bodies such as AWARE had spoken up more for the victim and her family when the online trolls started attacking her and her family. She has suffered enough. Even today with all the attention and news of the death of the accused, I think the girl needs a lot more attention than anybody else.