July 24, 2023
SINGAPORE – The circumstances surrounding Sergeant Uvaraja Gopal’s death will be thoroughly investigated to retain confidence in the police force, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.
Speaking to reporters at Sgt Uvaraja’s wake on Sunday, which he attended in his capacity as an MP for Nee Soon GRC, Mr Shanmugam noted that 40 per cent of police officers are from minority races.
The police know they will lose the confidence of the people if they do not investigate such cases thoroughly and bring any offences to light, he said.
He was responding to a question on how minorities will be better protected in the police force, following Sgt Uvaraja’s death on Friday and his Facebook post alleging he had been bullied at the workplace by his superiors and racially abused by his team members.
Sgt Uvaraja, 36, was found lying motionless at the foot of Block 393 Yishun Avenue 6 on Friday evening, and was unconscious when he was taken to hospital, where he died. The police do not suspect foul play.
Among other allegations, Sgt Uvaraja said he had been denied transfers within the police force, and had sought help but did not receive any.
The police are currently investigating these allegations, and on Friday said they were aware of the challenges Sgt Uvaraja faced, and had extended help to him.
Mr Shanmugam said the purpose of his visit on Sunday was to bring closure to Sgt Uvaraja’s grieving family members.
After the funeral is over, the authorities will provide them with support and explain the issues they will need to deal with following his death, he added.
Mr Shanmugam said Sgt Uvaraja’s family was unaware of his situation. “The brothers, the mother, father, they hadn’t realised a lot of things. So I spent some time talking to them and explained, so I think they have a better understanding,” he added.
The minister declined to elaborate further on what he shared with the family, and would say only that this should be kept private for now. He noted that he was accompanying Mr Derrick Goh, who oversees Nee Soon Link ward and is Sgt Uvaraja’s MP, and that it is normal for MPs to attend wakes in their constituencies.
While Sgt Uvaraja’s family declined to speak to reporters, two of his childhood friends – who wanted to be known only as Raj, 34, and Citran, 36 – said he had always wanted to be a police officer.
“He’s a very quiet guy and not the type to go and find trouble,” said Mr Citran, who was his primary school friend.