Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Police Complacency

When Mr Tong Mun Cheong woke up following an epileptic seizure on Oct 1, he found himself handcuffed and inside a police lock-up.
The last thing he remembered was waiting for a taxi in Sungei Road earlier that evening.
Mr Tong, 34, said a police officer told him he had been taken in for drunken behavior and refused to let him call his mother for his seizure medication.
"I told them I had fits but the police didn't believe me. I asked them to take me to the hospital, but they said 'no'," said Mr Tong, who has been suffering from epilepsy since 1996.
After three hours in the lock-up without food, water or medication, Mr Tong suffered another attack.
His mother, Madam Er Swee Chew, told the Straits Times that the officers still would not let his son go.
"They told me he was having an attack but there were ambulance staff attending to him," said the 67-year-old housewife.
She had his medication, but the officer would not give it to him, she said.
They also refused to talk to staff at the Singapore General Hospital who could verify her son was epileptic, she claimed.
It was only after Mr Tong's older brother spoke to them that he finally released. "Mun Cheong's brother had told them that if they didn't release him, they had to be responsible for anything that may happen to him," said Madam Er.
The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2008, reported that it was not the first time that epilepsy patients, like Mr Tong, have been arrested by the police on suspicion of unruly behavior or drunkenness.
What was not reported was whether the arresting officers made Mr Tong take a breath analyser test on before slapping on the irons.