Dead man tells no tale – except for when he leaves his parting message on social media.

Police Sergeant Uvaraja Gopal tragically took his own life in July last year, shortly after posting on Facebook on July 21, where he claimed to have suffered from workplace bullying, racial discrimination, and familial troubles.

Levying accusations against state institutions – in the context of Uvaraja case – is particularly challenging, not because they are indefensible, but rather because in such cases, the defense often goes untested.

A robust defense is one that has been thoroughly examined, with every potential flaw and counter-argument rigorously scrutinised – in part, by the parties making the accusation.

Else, the matter is akin to a he-says-she-says back and forth, only that there’s no ‘forth’ since Uvaraja is dead.

Take it to the grave or seek out the truth?

When former Workers’ Party (WP) MP Raeesah Khan told a lie in Parliament, WP chief Pritam Singh had used the words “take it to the grave” during a meeting where she admitted to him, WP chair Sylvia Lim and vice-chair Faisal Manap that she had lied in the House.

If Raeesah had not made her confession, there is a high likelihood that the matter would be kept under wraps.

The Government could have done the same but they chose to investigate the matter and make public of their intentions – even at risk of being accused of disrespecting the dead. Afterall, the accusation raises questions about the integrity and values of the SPF – something that even the Home Affairs minister himself wouldn’t just not take it to the grave, but ensure that the air is cleared before he goes in it.

When Uvaraja accuses the SPF, the organisation has to react. Rightly so, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam ordered a thorough investigation to maintain accountability.

On Tuesday, Shanmugam said that the police review – as reviewed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers – has found that some of the allegations were untrue. As for the allegations which were true, actions had been taken when Uvaraja made the complaint and he had been told of the steps that had been taken.

The investigation’s findings, validated by the Attorney-General’s Chambers, refuted systemic racism or widespread bullying within the SPF. However, it acknowledged Uvaraja’s personal challenges and suggested that his perceived workplace ostracism might have been exacerbated by his frequent absences, a common psychological response.

Figuratively speaking, are we beating a dead horse?

We may say, the findings by the government may be one-sided, and that the accuser cannot defend himself – the back and ‘forth’.

But the important fact of the matter is that when the Government chose to investigate the matter, they made a deliberate decision to confront the allegations head-on, rather than allowing them to fester or be buried in silence. This proactive approach underscores a commitment to transparency and integrity within the state institutions, especially in sensitive cases where public trust is at stake.

In Uvaraja’s situation, the absence of his voice in the aftermath undoubtedly complicates matters. Without his input, the investigation necessarily relies on available evidence and testimonies from others. This inherent limitation, while challenging, does not diminish the importance of pursuing a thorough and fair inquiry. In fact, it reinforces the principle that accountability and justice are paramount, even when the accuser is no longer present to witness the outcomes.

Thus, the investigation into Uvaraja’s allegations becomes more than just an effort to clear the air; it represents a deeper commitment to uphold the values and integrity of the SPF and the broader state apparatus. In the end, while some may perceive the pursuit of this investigation as ‘beating a dead horse,’ it is, in reality, a necessary step to ensure the maintenance of public trust and the upholding of institutional integrity.

While the tragic circumstances of Uvaraja’s death leave many questions unanswered, the government’s transparent handling of the situation serves as a reminder of the importance of accountability in public service. It’s a challenging balance to strike – respecting the memory of the deceased while rigorously examining his accusations – but it’s a crucial one for maintaining the public’s faith in their institutions.

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