The case of Benjamin Lim revealed the kind of deep seated thinking in the minds of the people in authority on how to treat our children. Two points came out disgustingly, one, to interrogate children without the presence of an adult, and two, to handcuff children though in this case Shanmugam said Benjamin was not.
Children are children and many are very naïve, innocent and easily frighten by the presence of authority. They are juveniles, vulnerable in many ways. Their mental make up and psychology are not equipped to face the authority especially the police and in a situation when an alleged crime or offence is involved and they are being accused of it. Human decency would say children need to be protected and the younger they are the more they should be protected. Any asshole in Parliament or in authority wants to say otherwise? The presence of an adult to protect them, to give them some emotional and psychological support is the least that decent people must agree with.
The second point is handcuffing children. There are exceptions and age and physical considerations and the nature of the crime. In general, it is unbecoming and disgusting to put children in handcuffs for minor infringement of the law. There must be clear laws and regulations regarding the use of handcuffs like the use of the gun. The ministers must not conveniently say the discretion must be with the police. It should be the other way. The police can use their discretion when a crime is very serious, when the accused is physically big, violent and not cooperating. But when the accused is a diminutive child, a little girl or a little boy that can easily be handled by the adults, when they are physically small and not violent, cooperating, the handcuffs must be avoided and not be used foolishly and happily. When children below certain age are handcuffed, the officers must submit a report to justify the act like the firing of a gun to prevent abuses. There must be clear guidelines to the junior officers on the ground when they can use handcuffs on children. We do not need sadist in the police force that could see nothing wrong with handcuffing children.
After this sad episode, I hope the police would come up with clear rules and regulations on the protocol to bring a child into custody and the use of handcuff. In bringing Benjamin to the police station, was he arrested? If he is not arrested, why is an adult not permitted to be with him? The use of the handcuffs cannot be a blank cheque and allowed junior officers to ‘ownself checks ownself’, can suka suka put handcuffs on children. There have been many abuses in the past. Put it right once for all. Why all the crocodile tears after poor children in a divorce when no one has the decency in Parliament to speak out about how the police should treat our children with care as guardians?
If it is too difficult to think, ask the Americans or the Europeans how they do it. No need to form another COI on this and wasting precious resources and time. No need to send delegations on study trips overseas. This is nothing new. It is about how we treat our young children with decency. It speaks volumes about the mentality of the adults and their upbringing, their values and beliefs and humanity. Some adults look normal but are sick in the head, are psychopaths and did not know themselves.
It is long overdue to change the protocol in the way the police is allowed to handle children in their custody and what can or cannot be handcuffed when children are concerned. Do it right for once, for goodness sake.
Presumed innocent until proven guilty? Never heard of it?