Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC, at the Second Reading of the Police Force (Amendment) Bill (Bill No. 14/2021)
Sir, Mr. Pillai, and Mr. Tay and yourself will be delivering a motion to commemorate 200 years of the Singapore Police Force (SPF). They will honour the contributions of the SPF and its officers for keeping Singapore one of the safest countries in the world.
I echo their sentiments.
In addition, I wish to commend the SPF for not only keeping our country safe, but also for taking steps to make their investigations a fairer process.
I previously spoke up to support the video-recording of police interviews. It makes police interviews more transparent. I am glad the SPF is making efforts to ensure their investigations provide due process to those interviewed by the police.
Sir, I have three points to make on this Bill.
Police powers to force entry in non-suicide cases
My first point is about equipping police with lifesaving skills.
The new Section 26E will allow a Police Officer to force entry into a place on reasonable suspicion that assistance may be required for injury or poor health, to protect the life, health, or safety of the person.
This is similar to the powers SCDF officers currently have under the Civil Defence Act to break into any place to protect the life, health, or safety of individuals.
Providing the powers of forced entry gives the officer access to the individual in need of assistance. However, just as important is equipping the officer with skills to provide the assistance required.
SCDF has a clear mandate to protect life, health, and safety and its officers are appropriately trained.
Can Minister share if police officers are already receiving training or will receive training to equip them with the skills needed to protect life, health, or safety once they have gained entry?
Expansion of police powers
My second point is about preparing police officers to appropriately use their new powers.
The amendments in this Bill expand the police powers of the Special Police Officers and Commercial Affairs Officers.
In particular, it gives Special Police Officers the same powers as regular Police Officers. It gives Commercial Affairs Officers, who currently only have investigation powers, more powers, such as the power to arrest persons who possess stolen items.
However, a police officer’s powers also come with specific safeguards, including requirements and restrictions under the Criminal Procedure Code and the Police General Orders.
Can Minister confirm that the new powers given to the Special Police Officers and Commercial Affairs Officers also mean that all the accompanying safeguards apply to them?
Can Minister also share what plans there are to provide training for Special Police Officers and Commercial Affairs Officers on their new powers and the accompanying safeguards?
Resignation during crisis period
My third point is about maintaining a proper staffing during a crisis period.
The new Section 13A provides that a notice to resign from the SPF given by a police officer may be refused by the Commissioner of Police during a crisis period.
I understand that in times of crisis it may be important to retain the services of police officers.
But does it make sense to have police officers stay in the force when they have clearly indicated their unwillingness to do so? Is there a risk that uncommitted police officers hinder rather than help their comrades during times of crisis?
Can Minister share in what extreme circumstances do we envision the Police Commissioner refusing such notices to resign?
In addition, can Minister share what plans he has to ensure that the SPF will be adequately staffed to withstand during times of crisis, apart from forcing uncommitted police officers to stay?
Sir, notwithstanding my clarifications, I stand in support of the Bill and I again thank our police officers for keeping all of us safe.
Watch the speech here.