Friday, January 8, 2010

Enforcement issues and my plea to Dr Ionescu

If it is what the news appear to be piecing together or insinuating, I feel sickened at last month's hit-and-run accident that injured two and killed one, and that the prime suspect has fled the country.

The prime suspect was Romanian diplomat Dr Silviu Ionescu, whose black Audi A6 hit 3 pedestrians after 3am on December 15. Tong Kok Wai unfortunately succumbed to his injuries (reported to be brain damage) ten days later. He was only 30 years old.

The pedestrians were hit in Bukit Panjang. The abandon car was found in Sungei Kadut. Ionescu flagged a taxi at Sungei Kadut and called the police on his mobile phone to report his missing vehicle.

Fairly straightforward case. Ionescu, being named a suspect, or rather the prime suspect according to reports, could have stayed behind to assist in investigations. But he managed to take a flight back home to Romania three days after the accident.

If he is so important to investigations, why wasn't he made to stay in Singapore?

Is this a reflection of how the police handles cases which involve high profile persons or diplomats?

Could the police investigations have stalled because it had to be escalated to the higher rungs of authority given the implications of the case?

Why wasn't the law of the (Singapore) land efficiently enforced? This is after all a hit-and-run case, and all suspects should be available/detained for their assistance.

This speaks a lot about our enforcement. I don't doubt our law, although it can do with improvements and changes in time (and any way, to doubt it will probably get you into trouble, won't it? It's like a religion that cannot be questioned or criticised). Enforcement involves the necessary and consistent procedures and actions to ensure that the law of the land is abided by.

For very serious cases such as hit-and-run, enforcement is necessary for the gathering of evidence and information. You have to make sure your witnesses, suspects and relevant experts are available. Enforcement is beyond catching crooks and putting them behind bars; it involves all the other processes to contribute to upholding the law and prevent it from being broken (if possible).

And who has the authority to enforce this? The police. And there has to be many reasons why they let Ionescu leave the country. To speculate, I would say:

1) Given the magnitude of the case and its implications, and it probably having to be escalated (given lower ranking personnel probably did not want to be fully responsible for this), the police stalled. The police, for some reason or another, did not control/monitor the movement of the person that could help with the investigation. I wonder if this is a standard operating procedure.

2) The stickiness of diplomatic immunity stalled the police. But I highly doubt this, given that a hit-and-run case in Singapore is still a hit-and-run case. We can talk diplomacy after investigations.

3) Given the implications of the case, the car and who was probably involved, wasn't the case immediately brought to the attention of the police chief or any relevant Minister?

We should not immediately point the finger at Ionescu just because he fled the country, and that there have been the taxi driver's account. It may be even stickier and suspicious when there was a media blackout on this and recent reports only make us more suspicious of Ionescu.

My contention here however is the enforcement. All suspects should be made to remain in Singapore. Are the right things being done efficiently to ensure proper investigations can take place? Or have standard operating procedures been compromised? Enforcement is key to making sure there is justice. The law on its own, without any enforcement, doesn't bring justice.

In the Temasek Review's (a website with appalling journalistic integrity as they don't link to other blogs/articles even they expect you to do so when you refer to them) interview with the wife of the deceased Tong Kok Wai, investigations are ongoing and the "sensitivity" of the case has been acknowledged by the police. IT IS A HIT-AND-RUN AND A MAN HAS DIED. How dare the police say this is sensitive? There is nothing sensitive to you when you stand by the view that no one is above the law.

There is nothing too sensitive or sticky when it comes to making sure there is justice (unless you're a rich guy or a politician who can pay off the plaintiff).

Unfortunately, justice cannot restore health or bring back lost lives. But at least with proper and prompt enforcement, we can lower the possibilities of such recklessness and expect people to be a little bit more responsible.


I can't help but feel sad that Tong died. His wife, Yenny, may be distressed and angry, but she's still civil in my opinion. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I were in her shoes. No spouse deserves an untimely death of their significant other. And if that unfortunate thing happens, it would be fair to have some answers and closure.

Ionescu, you may claim to be innocent. I wish you well, and I hope you come to Singapore to help out with investigations because that will be a lot more helpful to all of us than you remaining in Romania.

Ionescu, do Yenny a favour and come back to Singapore to assist in the investigations and bring closure to this.

Ionescu, do the right thing. If you want to clear your name, do the right thing and come to Singapore. If you have something to say, come to Singapore and say it. If you want to say that you weren't the driver of the car, say it in the presence of the families of those who were hit. Come to Singapore and be there to answer their questions. If you really want to help, come to Singapore.

1 comment:

DK said...

He is holding on to a diplomat passport. The Custom/SPF has no rights to stop him from leaving the country. In fact, they can't even search his bag.

It doesn't matter if he leave the country or not. If he is really guilty, the Singapore MFA can request the Romanian Govt to waive his diplomatic immunity and send him back for trial.

All we need now is to wait for the investigations finding.