S'pore film-maker called in to help with police investigation

Former SMRT bus driver He Jun Ling speaking in an interview with documentary filmmaker Lynn Lee. (Screengrab: LianAin Films)

A freelance film-maker spent close to eight hours at the Singapore police headquarters on Thursday in connection with her recent video interviews with two ex-SMRT bus drivers from China.

Lynn Lee, who had previous stints at CNN International and CNBC as well as the United Nations, also had her mobile phone and laptop searched during her interview at the New Phoenix Park headquarters at Irrawaddy Road near Novena.

This after a police superintendent and three other officers arrived at the house earlier on Thursday to seize her phone, laptop and iMac.

She had initially questioned them on the relevance of the devices for their investigation and then consulted a lawyer before it was agreed she would bring her laptop and phone to police headquarters where the items would be examined in her presence and then returned.

“I’m not worried. I’m not the one who is under investigation. I’m just a journalist, like you,” she told Yahoo! Singapore during a brief phone interview at around 10pm.

The journalist, who has produced a number of critically acclaimed documentaries, added that she had been treated well and the police were very cordial.

She eventually left the police headquarters close to 11pm. A group of friends, reporters and civil society activists had gathered outside to await her release.

In a Facebook note posted at 1am, she wrote, "Home now. Grateful for the many messages and phone calls...I am fine. Wasn't mistreated during the interview, although it did take a very, very long time".

Thursday's turn of events is the latest twist into the investigation into alleged police brutality by the two former SMRT bus drivers, He Jun Ling and Liu Xiang Ying, who said during the video recordings they had been beaten during questioning back in November. The former bus drivers are currently awaiting trial for their part in allegedly leading a mass two-day strike last November.

Earlier this week on Tuesday, Lee's hard drive containing her video recordings with the two former bus drivers was confiscated by police. On Wednesday, she spent a further 2.5 hours assisting police with their investigations.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has also said the authorities are investigating and taking a serious view of the allegations of police brutality.

In a previous statement, the MHA had said: “Such allegations must be taken seriously as it has a detrimental impact on public confidence and trust in the integrity of the SPF (Singapore Police Force). IAO (Internal Affairs Office) will be approaching bus drivers, the producers of the video and other related parties to seek their assistance in its investigation.” 

The IAO is an independent office within the Singapore Police Force HQ tasked to investigate into all disciplinary offences as well as crimes committed by police officers in the course of their work.

Meanwhile, lawyer Choo Zheng Xi from Peter Low LLC who is representing former driver He said he had been informed that the police had questioned Lee in relation to her communications with him.

“To the extent that they involve my representation of Mr He Jun Ling, I am concerned that this could be a breach of confidential communications relating to the conduct of Mr He’s defence,” said Choo.

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