Singapore police have felt compelled to respond to what they term “untrue and irresponsible” allegations after a photo showing a group of officers talking to two young Muslim girls in school uniform had netizens suggesting it was a stop and check intended to meet a quota.
The photo, which has been removed from Facebook after being posted earlier this week, is captioned: “I know it’s their job. But was wondering if Transcom (has) quota to hit every day?”
While the comments are no longer available, police further suggested some were intended to “stir up racial sentiments,” according to the response on the official Singapore Police Force Facebook page yesterday.
In their statement, police explained that the public transport security command officers, also known as Transcom, had actually been reaching out to the girls to see if they would like to join a newly implemented program that engages the community to fight crime.
“Such comments that seek to stir up racial sentiments are uncalled for and unhelpful,” police said without specifying what those comments were, adding that the girls actually did sign up for the program, called Riders-On-Watch, which launched on July 2.
Under this program, volunteers would receive the latest crime information so that they could help keep a lookout on suspicious items or characters in places like trains or buses or spread the word among families and friends.
The school the girls in the photo attend, an Islamic religious school in Geylang known as Madrasah Al-Ma’arif Al-Islamiah, has also come out to set the record straight.
The girls were on their way to school in the morning when they were approached by the Transcom officers, it said in a separate statement.
“We are appalled at the irresponsible circulation of our students’ photo which had been taken out of context. We would like to appeal to the public to help us in stopping further speculation or irresponsible circulation of the photo in order to respect the privacy of our students,” the school said.
This is the second misunderstanding involving Transcom officers this month. Just last week, police had to make a clarification after a video showing officers conducting checks on a man at Bishan MRT station was circulated online, with many saying that such checks targeted Malays.
Police said: “Such allegations are untrue, baseless, irresponsible, and may stir up racial tensions.”
“The Police take a stern view of persons who post remarks online that could cause ill-will and hostility between the different races or communities in Singapore and they will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” it added.
More news from the Little Red Dot at Coconuts.co/Singapore.
This article, Muslim schoolgirls approached over volunteer program, not stopped for checks: police, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!