Han Hui Hui's allegations of prison treatment 'baseless and false': MHA

Han Hui Hui's allegations of prison treatment 'baseless and false': MHA

The blogger had written in a Feb 23 post that she was strip searched in view of male officers and that she was not given toilet paper.

SINGAPORE: Allegations made by blogger Han Hui Hui regarding her treatment while in the State Courts lock-up are "baseless and false", the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement on Tuesday (Mar 14).

Ms Han, 24, was found guilty and fined S$3,100 in June last year for disrupting a charity event for special needs children at Hong Lim Park in 2014 by leading a rowdy protest, which she organised without approval from the National Parks Board.

In a Feb 23 blog post titled Alone in Cell, Ms Han made several allegations about her time in the prison lock-up during her temporary custody for the hearing.

MHA said on Tuesday the Singapore Prisons Service (SPS) interviewed the officers involved and reviewed the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage and documents on Ms Han's custody.

Ms Han wrote that she was subjected to a "humiliating" strip search in front of "about ten female officers with male officers passing by at the gate". There was a privacy screen but "(the authorities) simply put it there for show rather than really using it", she said.

However, MHA said she was not subjected to a strip search, but was instead searched by a female officer and had remained clothed for the entire duration.

Her allegation that male officers had walked past while she was being searched is also untrue as she was in the women’s wing of the lock-up, which is not accessible to male officers, the ministry said, adding that a privacy screen is deployed when a search in progress.

Ms Han also wrote that there was no tissue and soap provided in the prison, and prison officers would gather at the CCTV whenever a prisoner was using the toilet and mock them for being unable to clean themselves.

MHA said this was also untrue as toilet paper is made available to detainees.

The blogger claimed that the basement lock-up was run by auxiliary police officers from Malaysia, who made disparaging remarks about Singaporeans including one comparing them to dogs.

This was "unfounded", MHA said, adding that the team overseeing the lock-up consists of prisons officers supported by both Singaporean and Malaysian auxiliary police officers.

In her post, Ms Han said she was brought into solitary confinement at the High Court at 12.30pm, half an hour after lunchboxes were distributed. She was only given lunch at the State Court at 2.30pm, she claimed.

MHA said Ms Han was provided with lunch during her temporary custody.

"Ms Han could have raised the issues at any time while she was in custody and the SPS would have looked into it," MHA said in the statement. "However, she chose not to do so. Instead, she chose to publish the fabricated, false and misleading accounts on social media."

The ministry added that it takes all allegations seriously and will investigate them thoroughly, but will also "vigorously defend our officers from baseless attacks to ensure the integrity of our law enforcement agencies is not undermined”.

Source: CNA/mz