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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Daily Lessons from Life 18 February 2016 - SportsHub and Law Society's View on Interrogration of Young Offenders

1. "Singapore's Sports Hub consortium faces partnership breakdown - TODAY 18 Feb 2016

TODAY reports: The Sports Hub Ptd Ltd (SHPL) board, led by major equity partner InfraRed Capital Partners, is understood to be proposing to terminate the contract of its venue operation partner, Global Spectrum Pico.

In response to media queries, Sport Singapore said it was aware of recent developments at SHPL. "SportSG is aware that SHPL is reviewing its operations. We will continue to require that the terms and conditions of the Project Agreement are met," it said."

Well, no one said: "I told you so!" as it was obvious that something need to be done. So, I give credit to the Board for taking actions. Hopefully SportsHub will live up to its promise. Importantly, it MUST NOT cost any of the public money as the PRIVATE partners KNOW what they were in for at the outset!

2. "‘Less intimidating approach’ should have been taken in Benjamin Lim case: LawSoc President - TODAY 18 Feb 2016

SINGAPORE: The President of the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) has weighed in on the debate sparked by the death of a 14-year-old boy after he had been taken in for questioning, saying the police should have taken a “less intimidating way” of approaching the investigation.

Mr Thio Shen Yi also delved into the arguments for speeding up accused persons’ access to counsel, particularly for minors, in his commentary published on Wednesday (Feb 17) in the latest issue of the LawSoc’s official monthly newsletter, Singapore Law Gazette — a move lawyers viewed as symbolic, given that the publication’s circulation reaches all lawyers and various Government ministries.

In his 2,000-word article titled Vulnerable Suspects and Access to Counsel, the senior counsel said there is no way to know for certain why Benjamin Lim fell to his death and whether this could have been prevented. But if the death “was avoidable with a better system in place, then it is one death too many”, he said.

“If Benjamin had a lawyer present to give advice during the course of the (police) interview, would things have turned out differently? We will never have certainty, but it is not impossible to imagine a different outcome, and if that is possible, then one more question: How then should we act?”

The teenager, a Secondary Three student, was picked up by five plainclothes officers from his school on Jan 26. After about two hours at Ang Mo Kio Police Division, he was brought home by his mother. Within two hours, he was found dead at the foot of his Yishun block.

Questioning whether it was appropriate that the officers arrested the teenager at school during school hours, Mr Thio said in his commentary on Wednesday that it is “not uncommon” for the police to contact a witness or suspect by phone to set up an interview.

Following the incident, the police said they would be reviewing their procedures on whether to allow an appropriate adult to be present during interviews with young persons.
In the aftermath of the case, questions have been raised on why Benjamin’s parents were not allowed to be present for the interview — something that is currently disallowed. But Mr Thio noted that a stressful interrogation can extract what the interrogator was looking for, “which may, or may not, be the truth”.

In his commentary arguing for accused persons to get speedier access to lawyers, Law Society of Singapore president Thio Shen Yi cited the practices in various countries in saying that Singapore “is an outlier in the way we emphasise (investigation) efficacy over protection (of suspects)”."

Interesting development from a tragic incident.

a. indeed, what had triggered the young boy from committing suicide has to be investigated and understood before passing any judgement;

b. the SPF has, on its own, committed to conducting an investigation into the interrogation procedure to find out IF when dealing with young offender, its current procedure is good enough to ensure no unintended consequences?;

3. with the President of the Laws Society commenting that perhaps our police tends to "emphasise efficacy over protection of suspects", perhaps it IS time to change the way suspects in Singapore is been treated!! Not a question if we should change BUT when we should get it changed!

So, if anything good is to come out from this tragic event, may there not be another young suspect killing himself/herself due to 'we had reviewed that procedures but thought nothing is wrong with them' regret!

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