SINGAPORE - The suspect in Wednesday's double murder in Kovan is a veteran police officer, the Singapore Police Force said this morning (July 13).
Iskandar Rahmat, 34, is a senior police officer attached to the Bedok Police Division but was taken off frontline duties, to do administrative work, at the time of the grisly double murder of 67-year-old Tan Boon Sin and his 42-year-old son, Tan Chee Heong, in the Kovan area. He fled to Malaysia on the night of the murder, and has been extradited back to Singapore. He arrived at Police Cantonment Complex at about noon today.
Iskandar, who joined the police force in March 1999, was facing internal disciplinary action and was in debt, the police said. He was barred from carrying out duties and carrying firearms as per protocol, and was therefore taken off frontline duties.
"The case is especially troubling as the suspect is a police officer," Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean, said at a press briefing at the police headquarters this morning. “The actions that the suspect has been accused of have tarnished the reputation of the Police. His actions, if proven, have abused the trust placed in him, and betrayed his colleagues in the Police Force who serve faithfully and dutifully.”
Police are still investigating the connection between Iskandar and Mr Tan Boon Sin, but revealed that the two had crossed paths before.
"We do not know the extent of the relationship between them, but our preliminary investigations reveal that Mr Tan Boon Sin lodged a report at Bedok Police Division in November 2012 informing the police that he was a victim of theft," Mr Hoong Wee Teck, Deputy Commissioner (Investigations and Intelligence) and Director of Criminal Investigation Department, said.
"The suspect was the duty investigator, but the case was subsequently reassigned to another investigator who was handling several other reports lodged by others."
Iskandar was arrested by Malaysian police at a restaurant in Danga Bay, in Johor Bahru, around 11.30pm last night. He had crossed the Causeway on a scooter around 11pm on Wednesday, the same day the two bodies were found.
"We first established (Iskandar's) identity on Thursday morning after piecing together several pieces of evidence," said Mr Teo.
"We had not earlier released any details for operational reasons as police assessed that there was no threat to public safety, and revealing his identity was likely to have made his arrest more difficult to achieve.”
The arrest of Iskandar as a murder suspect, came a month after former Singapore Civil Defence Force commissioner Peter Lim Sin Pang was jailed six months for corruption.
When asked how the Home Affairs Ministry will go about restoring the public’s faith in its agencies following this latest episode, Mr Teo said, “I would say that in any organisation, there may be individual failures turning up. The key is what you would do about it. And I think in all these cases, we have shown that we uphold the integrity of the institutions, by upholding the law and bringing wrong doers to justice and doing so without fear or favour, so as to maintain and establish confidence in the institutions, and also people they serve.” “That’s what we will continue to do.”
Mr Teo said he had asked the Commissioner of Police to remind every officer to continue to perform his duty faithfully and diligently so as to maintain the trust that the public has in the Police Force and our officers.
Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee added that he "cannot remember the last time a murder suspect was also a police officer".
“Officer Iskandar’s fall from grace has also brought dishonour to the 10,000 other police officers who dedicate themselves every day to protecting others, and who routinely risk their own safety to preserve those of others,” he said.
Mr Ng added that the fact that suspect was an officer spurred police to hunt him down. "Tragically, Tan Boon Sin and Tan Chee Heong are dead. And untold grief has been brought upon their families and loved ones. Their loss can never ever be made good," said Mr Ng.
"I wish that there is something the police can do to lessen their anger and sorrow. I wish that I could turn back the clock and undo this great misfortune that has befallen the Tan family. But I know that no amount of commiseration or regret will lessen the hurt.
"All we can do is to bring the culpable to justice, and to mourn with the rest of Singapore the senseless loss of two innocent lives."
The Police Commissioner added that while the force “is tarred by the actions of this single officer”, he vowed that it “will take every criticism in our stride”.
“The public’s trust in the Police is the only reason why we are able to keep Singapore as safe as it is. This trust is hard-earned and must never be broken. And we will not allow this tragedy to adversely affect the strong bonds that we share with the communities that we protect.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean also phoned the Malaysian Minister for Home Affairs Dato Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi this afternoon to personally convey his appreciation for the assistance rendered by the Royal Malaysian Police in helping the Singapore Police Force arrest the suspect.