Her son died in prison 3 years ago under very controversial circumstances – and she has been hoping for some explanation into the truth of how he died.
As the matter is now before the courts, I shall not say too much about the case itself. However, I will give my two cents about the entirely deplorable statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 13 September 2013.
The statement was issued in response to the Writ of Summons served on the government, through the Attorney General, on 12 September, by lawyer for the family of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah, the 21-year old who died in Changi Prison on 27 September 2010.
The writ sought aggravated damages from the government, and laid out the family’s version of the events which took place on that fateful morning in Changi Prison. The writ says that several prison officers had “intentionally assaulted” Dinesh Raman and caused his death.
The MHA statement says that it has been in touch with the family about the compensation settlement.
The statement says [emphasis mine]:
“… the family has informally suggested that they would be prepared to ‘settle’ the matter for substantial windfall amounts…”
There are several questions about this statement:
Firstly, who is “the family”? The mother? Dinesh’s sister? His uncle, or aunts? MHA does not specify.
Secondly, why are negotiations for compensation apparently being conducted “informally”? What does this mean? MHA invited the family out to the coffeeshop for a chit chat to talk about compensation?
Thirdly, isn’t compensation negotiations or discussions a private and confidential matter? Why is the MHA divulging the details of such discussions to the public and to the media?
Fourthly, why were discussions about compensation being conducted “informally” with the family, rather than through their lawyer?
Lastly, what does MHA mean by “substantial windfall amounts”? This is the part which truly spins your mind and which is nauseating.
How can one possibly term any compensation for a death as a “windfall”?
A mother has lost her son – who basically died in the hands of the authorities – and the authorities are accusing her of wanting a financial “windfall” from it?
It is disgusting, and contemptible that the MHA would even suggest this.
It is unconscionable to put this to word and release it to the media to be disseminated to the public – and in the process smear the grieving family. Even worse, it ridicules their grief and their genuine desire to look for answers into how a member of the family had died.
But MHA did not stop there with its insults.
It chose to also cast aspersions on the dead person himself.
The MHA detailed how Dinesh Raman “was a secret society member who did not complete his O-levels and did not have any stable job prior to his time in prison”; how he “was arrested and sentenced to Reformative Training for rioting and theft with common intention”; and how he had “breached the Personal Protection Order” taken out against him.
These were apparently the things the MHA took into consideration when it computed the compensation amount.
The MHA said:
“The State has offered a compensation quantum calculated on the premise that Dinesh Raman would have gone on to ITE and have had a stable job. This is a generous approach, given the [above] facts…”
So basically, what MHA is saying is that given Dinesh Raman’s chequered history, and educational level, the compensation it is offering – which, by the way, MHA chose not to disclose – is a “generous” one.
Is there anything more vile than this – to put out such a self-serving statement, to make itself (the ministry) look good, and magnanimous and “generous”, when all that the mother is calling for is for a Coroner’s inquiry to find out how her son died?
Is there a need to drag out his education level, his past misdeeds? Is there a need to ridicule and denigrate and cast aspersions on the family and make accusations against them for allegedly trying to reap financial benefits from the death of their son and brother?
I have no words to describe such an utterly despicable allegation.
The family waited 3 years for answers, patiently waiting as the authorities went about its “investigations” – which ended some 28 months later in 2013, only to see that only one officer has been charged and fined (no jail term) for a “negligent act”.
And now you are accusing the family of wanting to reap a “substantial windfall amount” out of the death of their son and brother?
It is a reprehensible suggestion, unbecoming of a government ministry.
A group of civil society activists has called on the Minister for Home Affairs to apologise to the family for the appalling and deplorable statement put out by his ministry. [Read it here: “Government Statement on Dinesh Raman Reprehensible“]
One can only hope that this will be more forthcoming than the elusive Coroner’s inquiry to ascertain the truth behind the death of a prison inmate at the hands of the authorities.
Read The Online Citizen’s interview with the mother of Dinesh Raman, to get her response to the MHA statement here: “Substantial windfall” claim not true: Dinesh Raman’s mother]