Cooling Off Day breaches since 2011… and what happened to them

Switched on my computer this morning and I get swamped with reports and comments on social media on Cooling Off day breaches. Lot of angry people out there even among some of my friends. Cries of the lack of fairness in the treatment of the latest breaches.

Is that really so?

Here’s the nice thing about having Google. You put in a little research, use a bit of your common sense, normally the other perspective emerges very quickly.

Here’s what I found.

GE2011

  1. Our dear super act cute at that time Tin Pei Ling’s account posted a comment on that day.

Defence: Page administrator who posted without her knowledge

Outcome: Page administrator given stern warning by police

  1. The real super cute and hot Nicole Seah’s account made a post

Defence: Party volunteer accidentally posted

Outcome: Police accepted volunteer’s explanation, no further action link

  1. Nicole Seah’s account posted again on Polling Day, saying she would be checking on her complaint about Tin’s Cooling Off Day breach. The irony is that cooling off restrictions apply on Polling Day too. link

Defence and outcome: none. Seems like no police report was made.

GE 2015 link

  1. Smart Nation guy Vivian Balakrishnan’s Facebook and Twitter accounts posted

Defence: It was an old Facebook post which was automatically reposting on both Facebook and Twitter, despite multiple attempts to stop it. Facebook (which claimed recently it doesn’thave any political bias) confirmed this was caused by a glitch.

Outcome: The Elections Department reminded him and the posts were taken down. No further action.

  1. The People’s Power Party page posted rally speeches

Defence: Took longer to upload rally speeches than expected.

Outcome: The Elections Department reminded them and the posts were taken down. No further action.

  1. The Reform Party’s page posted

Defence: Unknown.

Outcome: The Elections Department reminded them and the posts were taken down. No further action.

BE 2016 – Blatant disregard of the law.

  1. The Independent Singapore posted on Cooling Off Day. Even after the Elections Department reminded them not to post, they still kept posting.
  2. and 3. Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng, whom the Elections Department called “regularly engag(ers) in the propagation, promotion and discussion of political issues”

Outcome: The Elections Department has made a police report and the police is investigating.

Now, the internet is aghast at the police searching Teo’s and Ngerng’s houses and seizing their phones and computers without a warrant. Even the SDP and WP have issued statements about this.

I see several problems with this:

  1. The police can search without a warrant if the offence is arrestable, as Cooling Off Day breaches are.

CaptureFrom the Criminal Procedure Code

It is claimed that Teo and Ngerng admit to making the posts. But they might not say the same in court. The police have to be thorough and establish evidence on who made the posts. To do this, it’s not inconceivable that they need Teo and Ngerng’s social media passwords and devices. Anyway, the offences were allegedly posted on Facebook. Where does one to go to to investigate? If a crime is committed and evidence is in a bedroom, police ask for the lock and search the bedroom. Why should social media be different?

  1. These cases can be seen as a higher level of offence.

Most of the previous cases, whether PAP or opposition, received a reminder. But The Independent persisted in posting even after receiving a reminder. This is surely a higher level of offence and warrants a more thorough investigation.

Most of the previous cases (again on all sides of the political fence) were either slip-ups or posts that somehow went up slightly after the restrictions kicked in and were quickly deleted. But Teo and Ngerng, in a climate when the Cooling Off rules were widely publicised, repeatedly posted political posts. Teo made 12 posts from Cooling Off Day to before the polls closed. In the same period, Ngerng posted a “photo campaign” for Chee on his blog, which he claims has more than 6.5 million hits, and 30 Facebook posts. The police can very well view these as deliberate and repeated transgressions, and investigate more thoroughly than before. They were not minor slips. They were major election campaigns!

3. Why are SDP and WP issuing statements about the police investigations?

This is the first time any politicians, let alone parties, have gone beyond explaining themselves to questioning the investigations. SDP is closely linked to Teo and Ngerng, and WP NCMP Leon Perera is one of the advisors of The Independent. They must be viewed as having interest in the investigation, and their statements attempts to influence them. They should not be seen as interfering with police investigations with people related to them. Clearly they should understand they are interested parties.

4. And finally, what is the matter with this Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss woman?

Why is she entering the fray everywhere, from trying to abuse the court procedure last week to police investigations this week? Now they are saying the policemen are not carrying cards. As long as the lead officer in charge of the team is carrying the warrant card, it is enough.

Obviously, some of these people are trying to put the police in the bad light and trying to throw people off the real offence. Remember Jeanette is the same person who recently abused the court process to defend a brutal murderer.

 

 

Advertisements