SINGAPORE – When a case as controversial and sensitive as the death of Benjamin Lim happens, it can evoke a torrent of emotions offline and online.
A 40-year-old man had to learn it the hard way when his Facebook comment led to his arrest.
He had posted: “Please reveal the identity of the five plain clothes officers and we go handle them ourselves. Kill them.”
According to the police, a report was filed after the post was made in response to a news article on the death of a 14-year-old boy.
The man was arrested on the grounds of inciting others to commit violence.
The boy who died, Benjamin Lim, was under investigation for outrage of modesty.
On Jan 25, a 11-year-old girl was allegedly molested in a lift and the suspect was later identified as Benjamin Lim.
The incident was captured on CCTV.
According to police, plain clothes officers visited Benjamin in school. He was interviewed by one officer in the presence of the principal and other educators.
Benjamin was also interviewed by another officer in an open plan office, back at the police station. Other officers were present at their workstations.
His mother had also given a statement to the police. The boy was released after 3.5 hours and went home with his mother.
The case was hotly debated in Parliament on Tuesday (March 1) with Home Affairs Minister K.Shanmugam laying out the facts and falsehoods of the situation.
Mr Shanmugam highlighted how The Online Citizen had spread falsehoods with their report on the case by publishing around 20 articles as “part of a smear campaign” to undermine public trust.
TOC had reported that police intimidated Benjamin and pressured him into confessing. The report also wrote that five police officers had spoken to the boy and later took him to the police station.
In laying out the timeline of events in Parliament, Mr Shanmugam spoke of how sensitive reports like these could affect investigations and public sentiment.
“Allegations, implications which are false, practically leading people to conclude that Benjamin committed suicide, as a result.”
“It is sad to see this level of dishonesty and politicising of this matter. Where the police are wrong, we must and will take action. But we should not allow deliberate, dishonest attacks,” he added.