Featured News Police to investigate death of Sergeant who alleged racism, bullying at work

Police to investigate death of Sergeant who alleged racism, bullying at work

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Prior to his death, Sergeant Uvaraja had taken to Facebook to express his grievances and unhappiness within his workplace.

SINGAPORE: A member of the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Sergeant Uvaraja S/O Gopal, was found dead at the foot of Block 393 Yishun Avenue 6 today (21 July) in what the police have classified an unnatural death.

Prior to his death, Sergeant Uvaraja had taken to Facebook to express his grievances and unhappiness within his workplace. Both SPF and Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam have acknowledged the allegations, with Mr Shanmugam ordering the police to probe the veracity of the deceased officer’s claims.

In a lengthy post published at 4.36pm today, 36-year-old Sergeant Uvaraja revealed that he had served in the SPF for 18 years, starting with his National Service with the police from 2005 to 2007.

Sergeant Uvaraja said he initially aspired to be a uniformed officer, fulfilling his dream when he became a regular police officer. However, he claimed that over time, he found himself embroiled in what he described as a “toxic” workplace culture. In his post, he alleged that colleagues engaged in backstabbing and played dirty to secure promotions.

His grievances appeared to extend beyond office politics as he claimed to have been subjected to racial insults and discrimination, recounting that he was referred to derogatorily as “keleng kia” and “black and smelly” by his team members.

Despite his dedication to his job, Sergeant Uvaraja asserted that his efforts were often undermined and unrecognized. He expressed his disappointment in receiving unfavorable appraisals from his superiors despite working grueling 16-hour shifts.

Sergeant Uvaraja recounted an attempt to transfer to a different police center in 2019, which he claimed was thwarted by his top superior, citing “manpower issues.” This resulted in him feeling isolated and labeled as “not being a team player” by his colleagues, who allegedly burdened him with excessive workload while neglecting his contributions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Sergeant Uvaraja asserted that he continued to work diligently, but the environment remained hostile, culminating in his wedding invitation being ignored and boycotted by his team members.

In 2021, Sergeant Uvaraja reported a case involving officers vaping, but he claimed the incident was covered up. Although he was later transferred to another police center, his struggles persisted as he alleged being treated as an “outcast” by the new team.

The situation seemed to have driven him to seek help by reaching out to superiors and helplines, but Sergeant Uvaraja lamented that he was met with indifference and scolding for his actions.

In a statement this evening, SPF said that it received a call for assistance at 4.55pm just minutes after Sergeant Uvaraja’s post was published.

The officer was found lying motionless at the foot of the block and was conveyed unconscious to the hospital, where he subsequently passed away.

Revealing that it does not suspect foul play for now, the police force claimed that Uvaraja had received assistance for the issues he had raised. It said:

“The Police were aware of the challenges at work which had been raised by the officer in his Facebook post, and we had extended various assistance to him. We will be looking thoroughly and will investigate into all the issues he has raised in his post.”

SPF added, “We are all deeply saddened by the passing of a colleague. We extend our deepest condolences to the family of the officer and are assisting the family in their time of grief.”

Minister Shanmugam has called the allegations the departed Singaporean raised “serious,” as he said in his own Facebook post:

“I have asked SPF to investigate the matter thoroughly. We will get to the bottom of it. And be accountable.”

Extending his deepest condolences to Sergeant Uvaraja’s loved ones, he added: “We have a clear policy of non discrimination. All officers are entitled to be treated fairly. SPF as an organisation is committed to that principle. We will investigate the facts.”

Despite the Minister’s assurances,┬áSergeant Uvaraja’s tragic death swiftly sparked concerns about workplace culture and mental health within the SPF.

Singaporeans mourning the loss of a dedicated officer have questioned online the support systems in place for those facing workplace difficulties and mental health challenges within the police force.

Some are also calling on the Minister to hand the investigation over to an independent body, given that the allegations are against the police themselves.

Others, meanwhile, are already posting the photos and LinkedIn profiles of the senior officers Sergeant Uvaraja named in his final post.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please seek help from a mental health professional or a helpline dedicated to providing support:

SOS 24-hour Hotline: 1-767

Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

Institute of Mental Health: 6389-2222 (24 hours)

Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (for primary school-aged children)

Top photo for illustrative purposes only (AFP)

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