SINGAPORE – Allegations that Public Transport Security Command (TransCom) officers conducting checks had approached two madrasah students because they had a quota to hit are untrue and irresponsible, the police said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (July 16) night.

The TransCom officers were engaging the two students in a new initiative, Riders-On-Watch (ROW), which was launched on July 2, the post explained. Under this scheme, volunteers sign up to help keep a lookout for suspicious items or people, and to alert the police.

“We are happy to share that the two students have signed up as ROW volunteers, and they now join other ROW volunteers to help keep Singapore’s public transport networks safe and secure,” said the police. “Such comments that seek to stir up racial sentiments are uncalled for and unhelpful.”

The post was hashtagged #fakenews.

Madrasah Al-Ma’arif Al-Islamiah made a similar clarification on Facebook earlier on Tuesday on “the true nature of a photo” of its students circulating on social media.

“We are proud of our students’ sense of civic-mindedness and responsibility towards their community,” it said in the post. “We are appalled at the irresponsible circulation of our students’ photo which had been taken out of context. We would like to appeal to the public to help us in stopping further speculation or irresponsible circulation of the photo in order to respect the privacy of our students.”

Earlier this month, a video showing officers conducting checks on a man at Bishan MRT station circulated online. The man in the video, who speaks to the officers in Malay, asks them why they “always scan Malays”.

The police had said there were several comments online stating such checks were targeted at Malays, and warned that they will take action against those who post remarks “that could cause ill will and hostility between the different races or communities in Singapore”.

They added that officers are impartial in their checks, and are trained to carry them out professionally.