上个星期五，选举局的助理选举官宣布向警方投案，投诉社会时事网站《新加坡独立网站》（The Independent Singapore）和两名人士鄞玉林和张素兰在武吉巴督补选的冷静日期间破坏选举条例。
这场冗长的问讯并没有结束，接着，警方随着提出了有意搜查他们的住家。鄞玉林告诉The New Lens International，警方告诉他，他们将到他的家进行抄家。尽管他要与自己的律师说话，但是不被允许。这位律师当时陪同张素兰到警察总部了。
张素兰在电话里告诉The New Lens International说，
在2013年，新闻记者李成琳（Lynn Lee） 也接受同样的调查 （similarly investigated）。她的手提电脑、手机和硬盘也是被他们拿走及进行检查，这是在她发表了一篇采访两名巴士车司机的文章后发生的。这两名巴士车司机是指控警方在对他们因此参与当年的罢工事件（按：2013 SMRT中国司机进行罢工，抗议同工不同酬及要求改善宿舍居住环境而展开罢工行动事件。见：http://sginsight.com/xjp/index.php?id=9601）被传召进行问讯时，警方对他们采取了粗暴态度。
在 新加坡，我们在开放和负责任方面还有许多工作要做的。当新加坡的政治已经朝向一党在表演独角戏的舞台的情况下，这个社会并不需要实施冷静日条例了。警方不 应该在没有搜查令下进行搜查和充公私人的物件。在问讯过程中必须允许律师在场，以便在调查过程中律师可以告知当事人应有的权力。
Singaporean Activists Harassed by Police for ‘Breaching’ Election Rules
It’s a worrying state of affairs when expressing your political opinions on Facebook on a particular day is all it takes for police to gain access to all your data without a warrant or court order.
Last Friday Singapore’s Elections Department announced that its Assistant Returning Officer had lodged police reports against news website The Independent Singapore and two individuals, Roy Ngerng and Teo Soh Lung, for breaching election rules relating to Cooling-Off Day during the Bukit Batok by-election held earlier this month.
According to the Cooling-Off Day rules under the Parliamentary Elections Action, election advertising is banned on the day before Polling Day, as well as on Polling Day itself. However, “the telephonic or electronic transmission by an individual to another individual of the first-mentioned individual’s own political views, on a non-commercial basis” is exempted from these rules.“
Both Ngerng and Teo are social activists who have crossed paths with the powerful: Ngerng was famously sued for defamation by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, while Teo had, in the late 1980s, been detained without trial for about two years under the Internal Security Act.
Ngerng and Teo reported to the police headquarters this morning for interrogation (or, as the police would prefer to put it, “interviews”). What followed were long sessions in which they were asked questions about the number of Facebook “likes” they had received on various posts, whether they felt their posts would “promote the electoral success” of the opposition candidate Dr Chee Soon Juan, whether anyone else has ever managed their Facebook pages for them.
The interrogations weren’t the end of it, either: the police then indicated their intention to search their homes. Ngerng told The New Lens International that police had told him they were going to “raid” his home. Although he wanted to speak with a lawyer who showed up in support of Teo, he says he was not allowed to do so.
Separately, Teo was asked to hand over her mobile phone before the police took her back to her home so they could search it and seize her computer. She refused to comply at first, saying they did not have a warrant. She was informed that the police did not need a search warrant, or a warrant to seize her property, as these things were being done in the course of the investigation. She was threatened with arrest if she did not comply, leaving her with the Hobson’s choice of handing over her phone voluntarily, or being arrested and having her phone confiscated anyway.
In the end, the police took her desktop computer, her laptop and her mobile phone. They also took two laptops, two hard drives, his mobile phone and some memory cards from Ngerng’s home.
“The individual’s rights are all gone,” Teo told The New Lens International by telephone. “There is no right to privacy at all.”
While Teo’s ordeal ended after the confiscation of her electronic devices, Ngerng was brought back to the police station to further “aid” in the investigations. He was asked to access his Facebook account so that his activity log and archive could be downloaded. Attempts were made to do the same with his WordPress account, but they were unable to log in.
“They pretty much have complete access to my phone,” he said. “I’m not sure what they’re going to do with the access to my phone.”
By the time Ngerng was released from police custody, over eight hours after he first presented himself in the morning, it was already beginning to seem surreal – and outrageous – that this whole episode had been triggered by something as inconsequential as some social media posts. Yet it would appear that this is all it takes for Singaporean authorities to get their hands on all your data.
Teo and Ngerng aren’t the only ones to find their electronics confiscated by the police for investigation. In 2013, journalist Lynn Lee was similarly investigated – and her laptop, mobile phone and hard drives seized and/or examined – after she published interviews with two bus drivers who had alleged police brutality while being interrogated for their participation in a strike. Last year, teenage blogger Amos Yee had his electronics confiscated after he published a rant against Lee Kuan Yew and Christianity on YouTube after the elder statesman’s death. His electronics were confiscated again this year after he was arrested on charges of wounding religious feelings (again) and failing to report for police questioning. He was charged in court last week.
It’s a worrying state of affairs when expressing your political opinions on Facebook on a particular day is all it takes for the police to have “sufficient cause” to gain access to all your data without the need for warrants or court orders. It’s a sign of the wide-ranging powers the authorities have in Singapore, with a troubling lack of checks and balances.
And it shouldn’t just be civil society that is troubled by police harassment and unchecked power. In a context where similar complaints against ruling party politicians are easily explained away as mistakes and “bugs” while others are subjected to long interrogations and home raids, such episodes can erode public trust, thus hurting the legitimacy of the state. Ultimately, everyone loses.
So much more needs to be done to ensure openness and accountability in Singapore. Cooling-Off Day rules have no place in a society where the political playing field is already so skewed towards one party. The police shouldn’t be able to search and seize property without warrants. Lawyers should be allowed to accompany clients into interrogations, and to advise people under investigation of their rights.
Until such accountability is achieved, all talk of open governance, inclusivity, consultation and innovation is little more than hot air.
1.张素兰：《咱们的警察部队是干啥的？ What is happening to our Police Force?》
2.TOC：《鄞玉林和张素兰现在面对警方广泛的调查 Roy Ngerng Yiling and Teo Soh Lung are now being extensively investigated》
3. Function 8严厉谴责政府滥用权力对付个别公民及公民社会组织 Function 8 condemns use of gov’t powers against individual citizens and civil society groups
8. 武吉巴督补选冷静日违例事件 警方充公涉案电子器材进行调查