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Lim Tean calls warrantless entry of URA officers into actor’s home “Outrageous Invasion Of Privacy”

Commenters also expressed concerns that they were afraid of people pretending to be safety distance enforcement officers might scam unsuspecting homeowners.

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Singapore — After actor Nick Mikhail detailed over social media his shock that safety distance enforcement officers went into his home without a warrant and the URA confirmed that this is allowed, many Singaporeans expressed their disapproval, including lawyer and opposition leader Lim Tean.

The People’s Voice secretary-general called it an “Outrageous Invasion Of Privacy” in a Facebook post on Tuesday night (Aug 3).

On Monday (Aug 2), the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) clarified that safe-distancing enforcement officers may enter and inspect “various premises, including residences” even if no warrant has been issued.

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This would allow the officers to make sure that regulations pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic are being followed.

URA’s clarification was issued in the wake of videos posted by actor Nick Mikhail on his Instagram account wherein he said officers had inspected his home while his wife was home alone. 

Commenters on the URA’s clarification expressed concerns that they were afraid of people pretending to be safety distance enforcement officers might scam unsuspecting homeowners, or said it could be dangerous for women or the elderly who were home alone.

For Mr Lim, the issue of privacy seemed at the forefront of his concerns.

“I read with utter horror Nick Mikhail’s account of how safe distancing enforcement personnel invaded his family’s privacy last week,” he wrote.

“It is the latest illustration of how various authorities have over the years given themselves wide-ranging powers, which have gone virtually unchecked by a lame Parliament, and which encroach onto our citizens’ rights and privacy unduly.”

He added that he was “very glad” the actor had “voiced out his unhappiness,” also writing that he hoped that Singaporeans would follow suit.

“We must always guard our civil liberties jealously because history teaches us that unless we do so, we will lose them. 

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So whether it is TraceTogether or allowing social distancing officers to enter into one’s homes, the citizen has the right to be heard and to protest!”

Mr Lim added that people should be ready to challenge the authorities through judicial review in situations where they believe that they’ve overstepped their mark.

“We must not succumb to the dangerous idea that might is right.”

The opposition leader further wrote that if he were a Member of Parliament, he would “raise urgent questions” for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam “and demand to know whether they think that it is right that these social distancing personnel are able to enter people’s homes, when they have no proof that rules and regulations have been breached!”

Mr Mikhail wrote last week that officers “Came in without warrant,” and uploaded a video of officers looking around what appeared to be one room in his house.

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He had originally mistakenly identified the officers as from the National Environment Agency (NEA), for which he later apologised.  

In response to Mr Mikhail, URA said that it was addressing “repeated complaints” from people living in the vicinity about some residents who were “having gatherings with more than the permitted number of visitors,” and had allegedly made a considerable amount of noise. /TISG

Read also: Many Singaporeans unhappy with URA clarification that safe-distancing officers can enter homes without warrants

Many Singaporeans unhappy with URA clarification that safe-distancing officers can enter homes without warrants

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