Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The police have admitted that officers could have done a better job in handling an epileptic man who was denied his medication and had a seizure while in custody earlier this month. The admission came days after The Straits Times reported that Mr Tong Mun Cheong was arrested October 1st on suspicion of being drunk after suffering a seizure along Sungei Road, near Jalan Besar. The 34 year old , who has had epilepsy for more than a decade, was waiting for a cab at the time.

While in custody, Mr Tong said officers denied his appeals to contact his mother, who had medicine that would prevent another seizure and also brushed off requests to send him to the hospital.

A police spokesman confirmed that around 9 pm that day, about two hours after being arrested, Mr Tong suffered a seizure in custody. After being seen by paramedics, he was eventually released about 5 1/2 hours after his arrest.

A police spokesman said the case could have been handled better. We fully empathise with (Mr Tong's) family's anxiety and have explained matters to them. Officers should have quickly put Mr Tong in touch with his family while he was in custody, he added. Also, when the 34 year old's mother came down to the station with his medicine, they should have consulted a doctor instead of turning her away, the spokesman said.

Mr Tong said he told officers at the station that he was suffering from epilepsy, but they did not believe him. The police spokesman confirmed this, but added that when another officer asked him for details, he remained silent. This is the second time since 1999 that Mr Tong has been arrested after a seizure. Police said that since 2004, they have contracted a professional private medical group to develop training packages to help officers identify and manage people with epilepsy.

They will now be contacting non-profit Epilepsy Care Group to explore their views and ideas as to how procedures can be improved in such situations.

By Esther Tan
The Straits Times - Singapore

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