Blog: How to Kill a Little Boy

I just got back from a nice table-top RPG session. I wanted to play some games. I wanted to go fetch my sister from the airport today. But I won’t. Because I wanted to write this.

A 14-year-old teenager in Singapore jumped to his death on the 26th of January. And the possible reason for it makes me sick. I am ashamed for my country. I am ashamed for so many things.

The story goes that a 14-year-old boy was accused of molestation and brought to the police station for questioning, straight from his school. There was no guardian, there was no lawyer. He was interrogated for 3 hours, after which he pleaded guilty to the charge. He later returned home, where, to add insult to injury, was told he was no longer allowed to go for a camp in school. He later jumped to his death from his 14th floor home.

Before he died, the boy said, “You say I am guilty, I’m guilty then.”

I want you to think about all that. Really let it sink in. And once you do, go tell those officials involved to go fuck themselves.

Forget that the kid was 14. Forget that at that age, most of us barely knew the difference between playful and assholery. Forget that most of us, at that age, don’t know a single law written in the world, let alone Singapore. Forget all the common sense and logic and listen to what National Crime Prevention Council ambassador, Mr Lionel de Souza, is quoted as saying,

A police investigation is about searching for the truth. Having a parent in the same room with the accused would hamper this search, because they will not be neutral parties.”

Again, read those sentences closely. Once you do, kindly go here and tell Mr. Souza to go fuck himself.

When did our democracy lopsided to those with power and authority? When did our justice apply only to those who are smarter? When did our equality go to the strong?

Having a parent in the same room is not a neutral party? That is correct. A parent in the room does not make for a neutral party. But it does make for neutral, equal, judicially fair(er) ground of contact.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

In the blue corner, sitting at the combined life experience and knowledge of over 60 years are two old and scary investigation officers that, which medical experts shown, are engaging in an activity akin to torture that can mentally scar even a grown ass war veteran.

In the red corner, sitting with the single life experience of fuck-all, is a 14-year-old kid whose biggest worry in life is not going to school on time and failing their common tests, who is in their most influential psychology in the growing phase of puberty, that can be easily scarred and just wants to go home to play DOTA.

This is insane. For a 14-year-old kid, 3 hours is 2 times longer than that for a 30-year-old adult, simply because he had such a short life that, by comparison, those 3 hours is equivalent to half a day passing us by!

Do you not see how stupid this setting is? Adults that have been interrogated for 3 hours or, in some cases, less, have been convicted around the world for crimes they did not commit, simply because the mental stress and exhaustion from an interrogation is that damn high!

This is why, despite me hating that gut wrenching Amos Yee, I never once condoned his interrogation and arrest.

14
The headlines at The New Paper, Singapore, the day after the initial publication.

Let me recite something for you, and if you’re a Singaporean, you should know this by heart.

“…to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality…”

That’s our national pledge. We’ve recited it through our formative years. Even though I have not spoken a word of it in the past 6 years of my life, I can remember them clear as day.

When did our democracy lopsided to those with power and authority? When did our justice apply only to those who are smarter? When did our equality go to the strong?

Almost every other 1st world country in the world has a law or a variation of it that allows rights and protection to children under 16 when arrested and brought in for questioning and interrogation.

That is because every advanced nation with intelligent progress knows that children under a certain age are not fully capable of making wise decisions. That’s why Lego puts the age limit on their boxes, to make sure these kids with so little life experience won’t accidentally stick one into their eye or something.

Not speaking from experience.

But as to my knowledge, Singapore does not have such a law or right. Why? I don’t know. The only logical conclusion I have is that we are stupid.

Before he died, the boy said, “You say I am guilty, I’m guilty then.”

Is that not the response that every child has when faced with a problem they just want to get over with? Is that not what some of us say, even now as we are older? Is it not at all possible, that at that age, with no clear understanding of law and consequences, or judicial proceedings and personal rights, the boy admitted his guilt because he wants to go home?

Adults that have been interrogated for 3 hours or, in some cases, less, have been convicted around the world for crimes they did not commit, simply because the mental stress and exhaustion from an interrogation is that damn high!

I just came back from a really, really fun tabletop RPG session. My elder sister is arriving back in Singapore from Melbourne as I write this. Yet, I don’t think there’s anywhere else that I can be more than here, writing this. But honestly, I’d rather not be writing this. I’d rather be playing games, taking a nap, reading a book. Anything but writing this.

Now, I keep waiting for someone to tell me that this whole thing was just an elaborate joke. That a 14-year-old kid did not have his life cut short because a bunch of idiots thought they knew best, thought they had more rights and authority. As far as I’m concerned, this is Singapore’s equivalent to the shooting of Tamir Rice in the States.

A child killed because officers of the law, instead of protecting and ensuring justice and equality for all, decided they had more power, more rights, and more situational knowledge. A minor is dead because the ones involved were idiots.

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4 Comments

  1. Wow…that is really tragic and depressing. Yes, legal protections against coercive interrogations are among the most basic rules of criminal procedure. I’m shocked that Singapore doesn’t have these.

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    1. It a big point of disappointment, in my opinion, that Singapore has nothing of the sorts. Quite a major failure for what is supposed to be the most developed nation in South East Asia.

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  2. This is disgusting. I guess they were having a bad day and desperately wanted somebody to take it out on (absolutely not excuse of course). It reminds of an incident that happened with my sister. I once trained as a teacher, starting as a teaching assistant. I worked at the school my sister attended (there’s a ten year age gap between us). Anyway I collected her from her class after I finished work to take her home and she sat at her desk, eyes red from crying and she looked so defeated. I asked her what was wrong. She told me she had been told off by the head mistress. Long story short my sister was in a band of 3 friends, as is often the case in this arrangement one friend falls out with another and friend 3 (my sister) has to pick a side. The friend my sister picked made some nasty notes and pictures about the rejected friend and they were found. Both were questioned about this incident but the head mistress basically asked my sister if she had done it and she said she saw friend 2 doing it but didn’t draw or write anything herself. The headmistress yelled at her for an hour ‘You did it! You did. Don’t lie. Don’t tell me you didn’t do it. Stop lying, tell me the truth, you did it, you did it’. So, my sister was terrified and she admitted it. I was appalled at the head mistress’s behaviour so I spoke to her. She said ‘Well kids are all little liars you have to be tough on them, they do this kind of thing all the time it makes me sick that I have to intervene on this pathetic behaviour.’ I told her ‘Shouldn’t it be innocent until proven guilty? I’m sure loads of kids lie but that doesn’t mean they do it all the time’ she turned around and said she was my sister so I was bias and I couldn’t see through he lies and since people like me and other parents couldn’t, it was up to her to teach the little liars not everyone would stand for their crap (more or less what she said word for word). This attitude in a fellow educator made me sick. To see it in police, those who ate supposed to protect and serve people, is just as sickening. When did young people become second class citizens? Maybe they’re not perfect but neither are adults. Both children and adults have their draw backs and they differ. I hope that this gets addressed and those police get charged with manslaughter – because essentially that’s what this is. (Sorry for the long comment!)

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    1. Yes, thinking every kid is a lying is a completely crazy notion. Sadly, I doubt the police will get charged with anything. Government officials are rarely charged for any of the crimes they sometimes do here.

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