The Commissioner of Police (CP) Ng Joo Hee has made some very interesting comments at the on going Commission of Inquiry (COI). “1,000 more officers are needed to boost the force.” He also touches on the “powder keg” Geylang. There are far too many implications from the two comments. As responsible citizens, we ought to be concerned.
When CP says that we need an extra of 1,000 police officers to boost the police force, I wonder what sort of police officers he is referring to? Definitely not those auxiliary police officers outsourced to desperate cheap labourers from neighboring countries when they simply came here for the better wages and using the law as a pretext in its high handed approach to tekan locals. 1,000 new recruits in the Special Ops Command (SOC) or in the Land Divisions or simply just manning those police posts in HDB estates? What sort of extra 1,000 police officers? All with diplomas or university degrees and wearing the Sgt rank on the first day of police work? Veterans always opined that ranks have to be earned the hard way and never given freely losing its intrinsic value.
I still remember vividly what one Chinese gangster used to tell me years ago. According to him, there are 3 types of police officers in our SPF. The NS senior officers, “study” or scholar senior officers and the hardened rank and file senior officers. He feared the last category. He was not afraid of the first two types where according to him he could easily put them in his pocket! This is uniquely Singapore.
What sort of 1,000 extra police officers do we need? Paper pushers or those who could perform on their jobs? In short, it is the quality and not the quantity that counts. In his own admission, CP says, “Over the years, we have strived to keep our force small, while constantly creating new capabilities through deploying better technology, outsourcing and by co-creating with the community. Even though, we frequently rob Peter to pay Paul, as was the case when we kept reducing the size of our anti-riot troopers to fund other capabilities.” I read it with a tinge of sadness and dismay.
Knowing that we have got more than 2 million foreigners here, yet they have reduced the size of anti-riot troopers instead of expanding them? Prior to the Little India riot, one could observe the huge mass of humanity moving in countless waves in Little India – not to mention the Geylang or Beach Road Golden Mile areas where foreigners congregate during the weekends to while away their time. Common sense tells us that if there is trouble, it could be very ugly. Until that Little India incident with all revelations coming out in the open, then only the focus is shifted to this time bomb. CP seems to say that the Little India riot is not as serious as the powder keg explosive in Geylang. Is he seizing this opportunity to highlight the manpower issue he’s facing so that he could have more budget for more men to handle public order maintenance?
The next question to ask is whether we need an extra 1,000 troopers or street walking police officers? Who is performing the actual police job? The blue knight walking the beats or those highly paid police scholars sitting in their ivory towers putting up more power points slide presentations to impress the gods? That is the question.
When I joined the police force in1983 with full A level qualification, I had to start off as a police constable. After 7 years, I got my corporal rank. Another 3 years of hell in investigation before I was given the Sgt rank. Today, the ranks are given freely as if it’s lelong sale in a pasar malam. When I had my recent encounter with the young police Sgt and a corporal, I had a hard time telling them that I could write a better statement rather than him recording my statement. But they refused and accused me of interfering in their police investigation! What a langgar situation. My respect for those newly minted police officers is lost. Not sure and lacking in confidence in their job area. Didn’t ask penetrating questions. Just treated it another case to be filed away. Are we paying top dollar for such officer without any sense of passion in their job?
Like what CP says, he is more worried about our red light district in Geylang rather than the 500 over rioters in Little India. Cities all over the world do have their own versions of Geylang. In fact, they are even notorious than our Geylang. Remember, they carry firearms and consumed all kinds of drugs like nobody’s business! They can’t simply ban alcohol the very next day like we did! link and link Could those police officers with easily acquired ranks handle another riot in Geylang? If it ever happened in Geylang, it’s not going to be Indians only. Lots of locals and many other nationalities hang around there. The lure of the nectar coated hidden valley is simply irresistible. Look at the Little India riot, every police officer was waiting for instruction to act despite the fact there there was total loss of communication according to what is revealed. The walkie talkies were not functioning yet they were still waiting for further instructions. If everything is based on instructions from the top and higher ups, do we need very educated police officers with ranks to do a simple ground job of containing a riot situation? SOPs are clearly spelt for necessary action for that sort of scenario yet everybody waiting for somebody until nobody is doing anything at all.
Next, to outsource so many police functions to auxiliary police is a disaster. It is only a matter of time before another time bomb explodes. Those auxiliary police officers from neighboring countries are here to make a living. They are not here to serve with altruistic ideals or out of patriotism! As it is, it’s already happening at our Causeway Checkpoint with so many cases of slipping through the security barriers and officers right in front of their noses. Remember that guy who just walked across and subsequently came back to surrender where he was hang for murdering a small girl? What about our most wanted lipping terrorist able to just swim across the waterway divide? Invested so much money on the barriers but they did not work when needed? Failing to stop breeches of security as in the case of the mentally impaired lady driving her car into our country. Do I need to quote some more to prove my point? Yes, our borders and some vital installations are outsourced to auxiliary police officers to the detriment of our national security.
When the traffic offenses such as illegal parking are outsourced to them, they really use the powers given to them to the maximum terrorizing all those locals living in the neighborhoods. When I was visiting complaint file of illegal parking especially in front of coffee-shops, we switched on the blinkers to warn illegal parking motorists to move away their vehicles. Sometimes, we even used the siren to show them our presence. We used scare crow methods to chase them away. Until no choice, then only enforcement action against illegal parking is taken. Cuz as locals, we empathize with those motorists. Do those LTA enforcement officers or auxiliary officers ever give you any chance at all? I’m sure many readers got their horror stories to tell of their highhandedness and merrily issuing summons or snapping pictures of your vehicles like no tomorrow?
According to my experience, not many could become police officers. Stringent screening need to be done before he’s recruited. I still remember how as recruits, we were really treated like “dogs” in Police Academy. We were screamed at for the slightest mistakes and abused verbally for not able to march with perfection by our kwalan Drill Instructors ( they did not have any rank. Only police constable or PC). This is to train us to meet the ever demanding public after passing out as qualified police officers to perform our duty. Be prepared to be abused and shouted at by the public when you put on the blue uniform. When I was a new I.O., I was also made to type a simple memo more than 10 times all over and all over again by my C.I.O. (Chief Investigation Officer) after my 24 hour tour of duty just to get it perfect. In those days, there was no computer. We used a manual type writer which I still remember is the Adler brand supplied by the force. Only those stay behind and take the whatever shit thrown at them will emerge with a much stronger tenacious character. Today, my peers in that era have progressed to hold many senior positions within the force.
I strongly feel that there is a need to re-look at the entire police organization. There is a need to commission a task force to study and really examine into the force structure and its organization. The little India incident has blatantly demonstrated our current state of police force. Do we still ignore all those symptoms and allow them to fester? To just ignore those weaknesses will lead to even more powder kegs exploding in the near future. The force itself is a huge time bomb waiting only to explode if we do not take drastic decisive measures now. Expand the anti-riot troopers with better equipment and more focus training without the need for higher paper qualifications is the first step towards a more professional resilient force.
Altruistic and patriotism… how many Singaporeans still carry these ideals? How many Singaporeans are willing to serve in SPF or any of our uniform services or public services, when they could have earned more in private sectors, especially financial sectors?
I don’t doubt your sincerity. I even believe some senior police officers would rather walk the ground than stay cooped up in their offices tending to emails that read ‘please follow up’.
A SSGT I know remarked about the issues he faced on ground. Demands that require police immediate actions when a motorcyclist reeves his bike in the car park, or neighbour drilling and knocking. At NPP, entertaining young couples lodging complaints about ‘he slapped me’ ‘she punched me first’. Appearing in social media just because a police officer appeared rude and acted ‘gangsterly’.
Would Sgt Fadli be lauded a hero if the mob turned on him and snatched his pistol? Would ASP Tang be called a coward should he start arresting the mob with a handful of police but leave the SCDF, driver and timekeeper to fend on their own?
CP Ng claimed lack of resources. Lack of resources since when? Did he requisite for more? Who or what was stopping him if he did? People are recognised more for material achievement therefore less are willing to step forward for altruistic and patriotic reasons? And those do step out for altruistic and patriotic reasons, are they mocked by others with comments like ‘can eat or not?’
When the highest office do not lead by examples, you can’t expect the subordinates to be righteous.
Some see the higher calling comes with sacrifices. Others call it a privilege to serve.
I am of the opinion that removing the pension is the biggest mistake. It’s all botomline and costs cutting. No more serving the nation.
It’s the same throughout the civil service. Focus on KPI, wait for instructions, follow instructions, collect medals/promotions and don’t ever rock the boat.
Patriotism and ultruism in Sin were lost and dead since the Day the Rulers claimed they had to be rewarded for by the millions of SinDollars(SID) for managing this tiny city.
By and large, the Perception of Elitism had been felt for over 20 years. What exactly does the Perception mean? It means the Rulers are claiming they are the Most Capable with the Best Ability to decide everything for the People. And from the People, they will choose and select those they deemed suit their definition of talent. The Rulers even import foreign talents, implying they have run out of local talents. This is despite that there are more graduates than ever before. And they are mostly from our fame universities.
With the Rulers and those they have selected and are picking to join their fold to lord over the less talented, daft and moron. A divide was created and clearly demarcated. There is 2 classes of citizens, namely the Elites and the Daft and the Latter is to be blindly obedient to the Former as they are the Best in Sinland.
Now that the Masses know who is high, who is low, who rules and who must obey. No ‘boh tuah boh suay’, the imperial system is revived in our democratic society.
We were told and warned by none other than our Pious Philosopher Ex Foreign Minister Georgie Boy to observe their Authority. This may explain for why all the Junior Police Officers were all waiting for Orders and Instructions during the Said Riot.
The People, the lower rung employees are all to comform and comply with the ‘tuah suay’ hierarchical arrangement. What with employees in the Disciplinary Forces where few dare to take initiatives outside the SOP.
There is nothing more stupid than preventing the use of intelligence as in the use of initiatives. But, without the Regimental System, the Rulers will not have the Power they gave to themselves to issue decrees and at time blame those under their Rules.
So, how can we improve our SPF and for the Matter, whatever in our Land?
Powder keg, not power keg.
Powder refers to gun powder, which can be ignited and explode.
Civil Servants and Public Servants are a misnomer in Singapore. They are careers where one gets paid well, do your job, meet the KPIs and get promoted. I was in the armed forces for 20+ years, started at 17 years old,worked my way up to a senior officer rank and then decided that it was time early retire and bug out of SG for the sake of my kids.
There is no more meritocracy, only tokenisms and elitism. The tokens are those who have deemed to attained sufficient merits in the scholastic system hence sucked into the “service”. They think and act in the same mould thereby will be unable to bring about a change in the system. And of course, the elites.
one more point, the public servants, i.e. uniformed personnel (military, police, fireman, paramedic etc), should never have the pension and medical benefits taken away. Their pay should be moderated lower, not the top dollar that they get paid currently. It should be supplemented with benefits such as housing etc. Basically, the remuneration package should not be just money alone but add in the pension, medical, housing, family allowance etc. as a whole.
A simple example to bolster this point. Uniform personnel by the nature of their job may need to put themselves in harms way. If they are assured that their medical and family are taken care of, wouldn’t they give themselves wholeheartedly to the task at hand?
As a person who has been inconvenienced by illegally parked vehicles, i support traffic police (or auxiliary police) issuing summons without giving chance. Giving chance just means the errant motorists will be back to illegally in the very near future. It does not solve the problem.
KC, you’re close to a point I wish to emphasise – consistency in good governance. A good government will be consistent in applying policy across all walks of life.
Inconsistency is removing pension and laud CPF yet maintaining pension for some.
I still have much respect for the first generation of ministers. They walk the talk and walk in the lead.
MM, I’m of 2 thoughts on pension. On one hand, it could encourage risk avoidance for fear of loosing pension. On the other, it gives encouragement to do the job right for long term plans without worries of retirement.
However, I agree with you that it’s worries about family and whether there’s assurance that the state will take care of their family, especially the uniformed groups, should they perish in the course of their duty.
Frankly our police or enforcement officers, whether auxiliary or not, are just like any of us. Some of them frequently look out for Filipino maids for free sex or even visit the prostitutes in Geylang. Afterall, they are also ordinary human beings when they are not carrying out their official duties.
Can we expect ourselves to behave any better than these officers ?
The pension is only good for Ministers and the elite. What really hits is the article by TOC that Sylvia Lim from WP has been raising this point for 8 years and the government denied ever having such a problem. Hell breaks lose and then they admit. Any reasonable government would listen to every citizen be it opposition or lay men when it comes to the betterment of the country but we have a government which shoots down anything which comes from the opposition. If we should not do transparency such for the sake if it, then the government should not oppose just for the sake of opposing, its about good governance you idiots.
The police force recently minted live sized standee to deter would be petty criminal, like it will help? The last one was even worse a metallic stand to mentioned how many shoplifters had been arrested, not updated and locked to a pole to its own device. The crime prevention message I receiving is that police property is subjected to criminal intent too.
Don’t know if that serves as a warning or a challenge.
Actually we need another 1000 CP, I am sure with that overwhelming amount of brain power, the shortage can be overcome.
I have a solution. To get the numbers as mentioned by CP, get more Sinkies to be NS policeman lah, rather than as soldiers. Because now more SInkies serve NS in army than in police, tio bo?
You think it takes less time to train a policeman than a soldier?
Valuable comments from an insider. I know quite a number of poly grads who just quit the police force. My own cousin who was in it for many years also quit. I think the problem is not with the budget. It’s with retaining people in the force. The usual complaints I hear are, the job sucks, the pay sucks. Interestingly, their rants are very similar to those of taxi drivers. In his book Between Stations, English professor Boey Kim Cheng wrote that he was also once a police officer. It’s difficult to imagine how the elegant and poetic Prof Boey could have fitted in the “rough” environment, but he held the rank of ASP.
Welcome home Dr Chan. I’m eagerly waiting for your travel notes in Nepal especially Pochari. I read of a retired British army Colonel – forget his name who used to train those Gurkhas for UK, Hong Kong, Brunei and Singapore. He learnt the Nepalese language. He became blind I his old age. He begged the King to grant him citizenship to live in his adopted home – Nepal. He spoke of the beauty of Pochari where the training was located. It’s a touching biography. Hope I could read it again but can’t find it anymore cuz my copy was given to someone. He reminds me of Niven -another ex British SAS commando who was in charged of the Gurkhas contingent here. He was an avid marathoner who spoke their language thereby commanded lots of respect from the Gurkhas.
Found it. He’s John Cross. http://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threads/colonel-cross-of-the-gurkhas.32039/