HSA rebuts claim of harassment, 'intimidation tactics' used by investigation officers

HSA rebuts claim of harassment, 'intimidation tactics' used by investigation officers

HSA officers accused of being thugs
Mr Daniel Tan Boon Huat's Facebook post on Oct 7 said two HSA officers came knocking on his door and shouting his name. (Photo: Facebook / Daniel Tan Boon Huat)

SINGAPORE: The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Wednesday (Oct 11) denied allegations that its officers had been abusive and behaved like thugs when carrying out investigations. 

The accusations was made last Saturday by Facebook user Daniel Tan Boon Huat, who wrote: "There is abuse and excessive, overboard investigation terror tactics by government agencies, they just harassed my outlet again and took down all my staff's nric and then came over to my house knocking and shouting my name."

Mr Tan was not at home at the time, a Saturday night, but said he has CCTV footage of the alleged incident. "If I am needed again for your interview, couldn't you have called me?" he added. 

Responding to the allegations, HSA said the accusations were made by someone whose tobacco retail licence was suspended because his shop was found selling tobacco to a minor.

"This individual and relevant parties are currently assisting HSA in investigations with regard to further violations to the Tobacco Control of Advertisements and Sale Act.

"We wish to clarify that the accusations are false. HSA officers had carried their duties professionally, without any harassment or threats made as alleged," said the agency in a statement on its website.

Mr Tan also claimed that the HSA officers have not told him what he was being investigated for. 

"Health Science Authority has been summoning me over and over, lock down in office, intimidation tactics, and they can’t tell us till now (it’s been months) what exactly are they investigating us for?" he wrote on Facebook, adding that he was locked in an office for eight hours with "no food no drinks".

HSA clarified on Wednesday that Mr Tan was interviewed at its office on Sep 29, and that an officer had provided him with drinks. 

"HSA’s CCTV footage records also showed that the individual had also freely left the unlocked interview room several times to attend to personal matters," said the agency.

HSA confirmed that its officers went to the homes of the relevant parties on the evening of Oct 7 and the next morning to serve them a notice for another interview, as new evidence had been uncovered. 

"HSA’s investigation officers had performed their duties professionally by knocking on the door briefly and left when no one was home," it said. 

In a second Facebook post on Wednesday, Mr Tan said he stood by what he has posted: "It's written to the best of my knowledge and based on what I absolutely believe to be the truth."

HSA said it takes a serious view on people who make unfounded accusations against its officers.

"HSA would like to assure members of the public that our authorised officers will continue to dutifully conduct themselves professionally and as empowered by the law."

Source: CNA/kc