Singapore Police Force Makes Exceptions To Prevent “Expos(ing) The Person Under Protection”, Like President Halimah
Two weeks ago, an interesting picture surfaced onto the Internet. It instantly became viral and was quickly picked up by all forms of media in the country.
Of course, we’re talking about none other than the picture of President Halimah’s official vehicle being “summoned” by a Land Transport Authority (LTA) officer for violating the dreaded traffic law of parking on double yellow lines.
However, what was more surprising was the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) response to the incident stating that on certain occasions, some exceptions could be made.
Wait, did they just imply that our President is entitled to special treatment?
President’s car kena summon
On 20 December 2017, a vehicle was found to have flouted traffic rules by parking on a double yellow line along the side of the road — which admittedly, isn’t the most exciting thing in the world.
However, a closer look at the car’s license plate instantly made this minor parking offense the talk of the town.
Numbered SEP1 – an acronym for Singapore Elected President – the white Mercedes was the exclusive vehicle of none other than Singapore’s Head of State, President Halimah Yacob.
Is our President’s car actually being “summoned” for breaking the law?
Good on you Sir, for ensuring that Singapore remained law by law. Can you imagine what would’ve happened if he had made an exception just because she was the President?
The public outcry would’ve been a disaster.
Just kidding, it wasn’t
Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on how you view this incident – nothing had actually happened.
In response to media queries, Channel NewsAsia reported that the LTA and SPF said in a joint statement that no summons were issued to our President’s vehicle.
The driver informed the LTA enforcement officer that he was there to pick up the President who was leaving the place. In the midst of the engagement, the President arrived and the driver drove off. There was no summons issued.
Although the driver probably received like, a really stern warning or something.
The Police Security Command (SecCom) – which provides security protection for the President and other senior political leaders – subsequently explained that parking close to the event location was simply part of protocol to ensure the safety and security of those that they are escorting.
As part of the security protection operations, the vehicle convoy is to be positioned close to the event location in compliance with traffic rules, to facilitate swift evacuation during contingencies.
However, in this case, because there wasn’t any parking spots available within the immediate vicinity, the driver had decided to park at the location photographed.
Because the laws don’t apply to our President, apparently.
P.S. We’re kidding about that last sentence.
Readers unhappy over lack of consequence
However, not everyone agreed with the LTA officer’s decision — such as Lianhe Zabao reader Long Jidong.
On 28 December 2017, Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao published a forum letter titled “It is an offence to park on double yellow line“.
Mr Long wrote passionately about how he felt that the law was final and that no one should be above it.
The security personnel in charge did not follow traffic rules and ought to be penalised. However, the authorities did not issue any summons and did not mention if they gave any warning, only a reminder that the personnel should follow traffic rules with regards to parking.
He also expressed his disappointment at how a blind eye was turned to the illegal act.
Parking on double yellow lines blocks traffic and is an illegal act. Chauffeurs of public sector personnel should be examples and not park on double yellow lines.
Truly not the hero we deserve, but hero that we need.
SPF’s explanation why
Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on how you once again view this incident – the SPF released an official statement on 30 Dec 2017 explaining why no summons was issued.
There will be occasions when [officers from the Police Security Command]may have to exercise their discretion, and make exceptions.
They stated that while traffic regulations still had to be followed, certain exceptions could still be made in order to not compromise the safety of the personnel.
If there is no easily accessible carpark, then, so as not to expose the person under protection, the vehicles will be driven near to the place where it is suitable to arrange a pick up, even if otherwise parking in such a place is not allowed.
Does that basically mean that the President – and other senior political figures – are above the law?
That would certainly create several problems — such as the one this netizen stated:
They could’ve at least apologised, right?
Additionally, they ended off mentioning how this was a practice common in many other countries — not just Singapore.
Justice and Equality
Is this really a case of President Halimah receiving special treatment from police officials? Or perhaps ensuring her safety is truly worth breaking several traffic laws — even though every other citizen isn’t entitled to the same.
What then, about the pledge of which we so proudly recite?
What do you think of this incident? Let us know in the comments below.
By the way, did you know that one of the license plates visible in the picture actually came up as a starter prize on – you guessed it – 20 December 2017’s 4D lottery?
Featured image from Facebook