New Naratif founder says two police cars escorted him home over Facebook probe in new video

Screengrab from the podcast video of founder Thum Ping Tjin and Sean Francis Han of Wake Up, Singapore. Image: New Naratif/YouTube
Screengrab from the podcast video of founder Thum Ping Tjin and Sean Francis Han of Wake Up, Singapore. Image: New Naratif/YouTube

New Naratif founder Thum Ping Tjin recounted his meeting with the police over complaints about paid Facebook ads that went up during the election, saying that four officers had escorted him home in two separate cars. 

His phone was also confiscated at the station while his laptop was taken from his place of residence, Thum said in a video with Wake Up, Singapore editor Sean Francis Han that was posted online yesterday. 

“Well, my phone was confiscated at the police station, so then they said we also want your laptop. And for some reason, they needed four police officers in two separate cars to come over with me to my home to then seize my laptop,” he said, adding: “Do I look very dangerous to you?”

Thum was summoned to the Clementi police station yesterday, where he said he spent over four hours in interrogation. He also said that he was asked by police to sign the seals used to secure his laptop. 

New Naratif founder says police have seized his laptop, phone

“And also, they asked me to sign across some seals and then stick the seals over all the ports and the end of the laptop which opens. If they are going to go through all this trouble to seal the laptop to show that it has not been tampered with, it suggests that they are not going to open the laptop immediately,” he was heard in the Singapore’s Prime Minister’s Office vs New Naratif clip. The 40-minute recording was also done for a podcast. 

The managing director also thinks that his laptop would not be used for investigation but as evidence in court if he ever goes to trial. 

“… if it goes to trial, the laptop can then be introduced in court to show that it has not been tampered with and can be opened up and whatever evidence inside can then be used,” he said. 

“If this is the case, it’s actually not even for this investigation, it’s merely to confiscate my laptop, inconvenience me for a significant amount of time for a scenario which may or may not happen and for evidence which they actually can access online,” he added.

The founder of the independent news outlet was accused by election officials of illegal election advertising. If found guilty under the Parliamentary Elections Act, he faces S$2,000 fine and 12 months in jail.

The Elections Department, which is under the Prime Minister’s Office, said on Friday that it filed a police report against New Naratif over five paid Facebook ads, which included a satirical video of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The posts were deemed as “election activity” that were published without the written authority of a candidate or elections agent as required by law. 

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