I reproduce part of Benjamin’s father’s open letter posted in the TOC here. It broke my heart. I don’t care how many people are happily celebrating their CNY. Benjamin’s family are going through hell now reflecting on the agonizing and harrowing moments poor Benjamin had to go through it, all alone, trembling in fear, in the hands of strangers that have full authority over his freedom and the fate of his life. Let this never happened again to any child in this country.
‘There are now reports and statements
from the relevant authorities that procedure will be subjected to review in
regard to police questioning of minors without the presence of an adult. As
Benjamin’s father, I felt this is necessary, but it came too late. It is
necessary because we pray that the same treatment my son received from the
police, will never ever happen again to another child.
school, in my opinion, should never have handed over my son to five police
officers during recess hours without having to wait for the arrival of family
members. I hate to think of the amount of fear he had at that moment, how
helpless he was then. To be escorted to the car park from the principle’s
office, one student in uniform accompanied by a few adults in civilian clothes
with police ID cards, how discreet this could be? I felt the embarrassment and
the shame my son was subjected to.
Benjamin’s father, it broke my heart when I later found out that my son was
brought to the principle’s office with one bun on his hand; and a drink on the
other from the school canteen.
cannot understand why the teacher; or office staff did not allow my son to at
least finish his food at the canteen before s/he brought him to the principle’s
office. It was reported that my son was allowed to finish his breakfast before
being taken to the police station. But that was after the interview. My boy had
his last meal in the school, a cold bun.
adults that were with him at that moment, the police officers and staffs of
Northview Secondary School, may I take this opportunity to tell you that my son
would prefer to have his meal when it is hot.
Benjamin finally left the police station at 2.50pm, he told his mother and
sister that he was not given anything to eat, nothing to drink throughout the 3
or more hours of engagement with police investigators in the police station. At
his age, my son gets hungry very fast after one meal. Just a cold bun and a
drink, and we cannot be sure if he did finish the bun because he was under
pressure then. Benjamin must be feeling hungry, thirsty, throughout the few
hours he was with the police investigator. I can imagine the anxiety felt by my
son throughout the ordeal.
Benjamin’s father, it is now my duty to seek justice for my son. We do not know
if he has indeed committed the alleged offence of “outrage of modesty” of the
11-year-old girl. Until the coroner hearing, we do not want to speculate
whether the offence has indeed taken place.
said, as parents we cannot forget and we cannot forgive the way my son was
treated, from the school to the time he was in police custody. I have this to
say to the school authorities. We as parents we entrusted our children to you.
You have a duty to ensure that our children are appropriately taken care of,
reasonably protected and have their interest in your priority.
police, I have to tell you that by sending 5 plainclothes officers to one
secondary school in 2 unmarked police vehicles are never discreet. You are
there to look for one secondary 3 student. You are not there to apprehend an
adult suspect with full ability to escape or capable in single combat.
Benjamin’s friends and team mates from the National Police Cadet Corps, thank
you for the lovely cards and your encouraging words to SGT (NPCC) Benjamin Lim.
To his colleagues from McDonald’s, he loved his job and he was grateful to be
part of the team. If the branch manager would allow, please give your consent
for him to keep his staff’s ID card.
but not least, on behalf of the family, I thank everyone for coming forward to
show their support to Benjamin. We have created an email account dedicated to
Benjamin, firstname.lastname@example.org. Friends and
members of public are welcome to write to us.’
It is so painful to
read the letter and to imagine what went through the mind of a 14 year old boy,
alone, helpless, no one to turn to, gripped in fear, at the mercy of strangers
in the name of the law of the country. Benjamin must be hoping that papa or
mama was there with him, or at least a caring teacher to hold his hands, to support
and comfort him during the harrowing hours in the police station.
This traumatic ordeal
is going to haunt many people through the lunar New Year festivities.