berthahenson

Little India COI: Wanted – More lawmen

In News Reports on March 26, 2014 at 3:42 am

I don’t know if anyone noticed that the Little India COI has been bending over backwards to assure the cops that they are all on the same side, with no clash of commissioners, so to speak ,given that ex-Commissioner Tee Tua Ba is on the COI.

In fact, it’s funny that Commissioner Ng Joo Hee brought up a little known riot in 1985 between Korean and Thai workers at a construction site as an example of the cops “holding the ground’’. That was when Mr Tee was the top cop on site.

In any case, is that riot a surprise to you? It was to me. CP Ng said that it was not widely known because the Internet and social media weren’t in place then. And it was confined to a construction site.

I wonder what else we don’t know about this place we live. Well, we do know that there are not enough policemen on the beat, or boots on the ground. We don’t need the cops to tell us that.

CP Ng actually made a plea for 1,000 more cops to beef up a police force that didn’t grow in pace with the population. You have to ask yourself: How come no one sounded the alarm all this time? The complacency of citizens notwithstanding, there must surely be enough experts to say that one cop to 614 people is way below the international benchmarks? So how is it that no MP or politician made this point? We worry so much about not re-producing to fill the ranks of the Singapore Armed Forces, but we spare nary a thought for the boys and girls in blue.

Perhaps, we thought that beyond Singapore being a safe enough place already, there is technology to make up for human shortfall. Looks like we still need “people’’, never mind if Singapore is going to have 100,000 cameras all round the island. Yup. One hundred thousand, according to the CP. And policemen will have body cameras, and their cars will be camera equipped too.

Still, here is the CP saying: Men no enough.   

Another interesting point: the COI raised concern that the presence of large numbers of foreigners, or rather, foreign communities, is itself  troubling. It’s talking about animosity among the communities, not necessarily directed at the “indigenous’’ population. It’s talking about communities bringing their cultures, customs, politics and historical baggage with them. Already, the Little India COI has heard bits and pieces about how the Bangladeshis and Indians don’t quite like each other. You have to wonder about the foreign worker dormitories where hundreds of them live under one roof.

Methinks for us locals, we always look at “troubles’’ among foreign workers as nothing to do with us. So, they fight among themselves. Okay. Just don’t try anything funny with us… I suppose that’s the wrong approach to take. Whatever happens in the dorms might well spill into other dorms – and further afield.

What the CP said about Geylang is troubling.  He actually used the word “lawless’’ to describe the atmosphere that pervades Singapore’s foremost red light district. Besides workers from China, other foreign nationalities also congregate there, an area with a disproportionately high number of crimes (135 compared to Little India’s 83) and public order offences committed (49 compared to 25).  Never mind that 100,000 foreign workers descend on Little India every weekend, going by the statistics, they are a tame nuisance compared to those who throng Geylang’s lorongs with their sale of sex and drugs.

Other things we didn’t know: the Geylang patrons open animosity towards the cops, assaults on police officers and vandalism of at least one patrol car in the area. Now, it makes you wonder why if the police were tracking Geylang, it was never brought to anyone’s notice before that they were so short-handed? Is this to preserve Singapore’s image as a safe city?        

CP Ng did a superb balancing act at the COI: He defended his men’s performance while acknowledging screw-ups, such as the lack of communication that night and the slow response time to activate the Special Operations Command. He promised rectification.

That is as a leader should do.

So, can we just give the man his men?

 

 

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  1. CP Ng rolled off impressive statistics that conveys the SPF is undermanned compared to other jurisdictions – Hong Kong, Tokyo, NYC and London.

    However, we should go beyond mere numbers and consider the workscope of the SPF vs. these other police forces.

    Over the years, much of the local police duties – the labour intensive ones – have been outsourced. These come readily to mind: Littering (NEA); Illegal parking (town councils and wardens); Illegal vehicular modifications, etc. (LTA). What else? Do we include/exclude other agencies such as CNB, CPIB, MOM and so forth.

    Until we get the full picture of duties and workscope, it’s difficult to comment on staffing levels. I did not attend the COI and perhaps missed some facts and could be totally off track here.

    Therefore, assuming CP Ng is right, you pose a pertinent question.

    How did this state of affairs come about? When did the numbers tip and under whose watch?

    Find the root cause and perhaps we get hints to solutions.

  2. Eh, I did say we are far too short of policemen – population went up by more than 2 million, while police force went down in number.

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