SINGAPORE — The Singapore Police Force took to Facebook on Tuesday evening (16 July) to quash online rumours that they conducted checks on two Madrasah (Islamic religious school) students because they had a quota to hit.
A recent photo circulated online showed a group of Public Transport Security Command (TransCom) officers speaking with two Madrasah students in what looked like a public area.
The police clarified in their Facebook post that the officers were in fact engaging the two students on a new initiative called Riders-On-Watch (ROW), which was implemented on 2 July.
Under this scheme, volunteers receive the latest crime information that affects Singapore’s public transport system. Besides helping to keep watch, they can also share the information with their family members, friends and neighbours, thereby assisting the police in crime prevention.
“We are happy to share that the two students have signed up as ROW volunteers, and they now join other ROW volunteers to help keep Singapore’s public transport networks safe and secure,” the police said in their Facebook post, which has the hashtag #fakenews.
They added that the “untrue and irresponsible online posts” that “seek to stir up racial sentiments are uncalled for and unhelpful”.
In a similar Facebook post on Tuesday, the Madrasah Al-Ma’arif Al-Islamiah also confirmed that its students depicted in the photo were approached by the TransCom officers to participate in the ROW scheme en route to school on Tuesday morning.
The Madrasah has appealed for the public to stop circulating the photo online, and added, “We are proud of our students’ sense of civic-mindedness and responsibility towards their community. Thus, we are appalled at the irresponsible circulation of our students’ photo which had been taken out of context.”
Earlier this month, an online video showed TransCom officers conducting checks on an uncooperative man at Bishan MRT Station. The man in the video, who speaks to the officers in Malay, asks them why they "always scan Malays".
The police said then that there were several comments online stating such checks were targeted at Malays, and warned that they will take action against those who post remarks "that could cause ill will and hostility between the different races or communities in Singapore".