Crime and ambivalence

Most of us ordinary citizens would generally agree amongst ourselves what crime is. No doubt, some complicated kinds of accounting practice might make us a little confused whether they might constitute white-collar crime or not, but generally speaking, when it comes to beating up others, cheating or coercion under threat, we are pretty clear what is right and wrong, and what law enforcement officers should be doing about it.

Yet, here’s the funny thing:  The one institution that seems to have rather different views as to what constitutes crime is none other than our police force.

Every now and then we hear someone say he was beaten up and a victim of physical violence, but the police would not act. The police would treat it as a civil dispute (however uncivil one party’s behaviour was) and tell the aggrieved party to go sort it out himself.  On the other hand, the police can be very quick to act in other situations. A few years ago, then-Nominated Member of Parliament Siew Kum Kong was leading a team doing a street-side survey, asking constituents of Jurong whether they would like to see a by-election to fill a vacant parliamentary seat. A posse of police officers came up to him and stopped him while they sought instructions as to whether doing a survey was criminal. It was not – there’s no law against it – but the police by their presence suspended the exercise nonetheless. Siew eventually decided to call the survey off.

This story, however, is not about the police acting politically, at least not in a direct way.  It’s a story from a migrant worker who had to call upon the police to help him over two different problems he faced, both of which he, you and I would ordinarily consider crimes.  The police were readily helpful and resolute in one case, but for all practical purposes, supportive of the criminals in the other. Why the difference in response?

I can only ascribe it to a difference in perception. In the first instance, they saw a crime, and so they acted. In the second case, they didn’t see any crime being committed at all.  You and I would see it straight away, but our police have different eyes.

* * * * *

Xu Liuqiang (not his real name, at his request) first went to an agent in Hubei to help him look for a job in Singapore, where his friend, Zhang Shou (not real name) was already working and earning good money. Xu was a slim, bespectacled twenty-something, not at all like the muscular construction workers we more often see from China. Speaking a relatively unaccented Mandarin, he reminded Yawning Bread of a well-educated, bookish accountant.

While the agent was trying to find suitable positions for him, someone from Singapore, claiming to be a Singapore-based agent, contacted Xu directly. Let’s call this man Toh. After some job offers such as machine operator or carpenter that Xu considered unsuitable, Toh suggested a job with a publishing firm. The pay would be S$1,200 a month, Toh said, with chance of earning more through overtime work. However, Toh’s fee was 27,000 yuan.

Xu agreed and Toh went ahead to apply for a Work Permit, the In-Principle Approval (IPA) for which was sent to Xu via Tencent QQ instant-messaging. When Xu saw it, it didn’t look right . The employment agency’s name (let’s call it ‘High Fly’) on the document differed from the agency that Toh had earlier said he worked for. The company that offered a job was (from its name) a furniture company, not a printing or publishing company. Xu asked Toh about these two discrepancies.

Toh explained that his own company’s “quota” was already full, so he had to “borrow quota” from High Fly, another employment agency. Also, the furniture and printing companies were owned by the same man. Xu looked up the internet and verified that High Fly and the furniture company were real.

Perhaps this is how things worked in Singapore, Xu told himself, accepting the explanations. Get too picky and the job offer might be withdrawn. Xu went off to Wuhan to buy an airticket to Singapore and informed Toh of his flight details.

Friday, 14 October 2011, 18:00h

Touching down at Changi airport Terminal 1, Xu bought a local mobile phone card and dialled Toh’s number.

“Meet me at door number 17 after you come out of Immigration,” Toh said.

Xu did as told, but Toh suggested immediately that they go to some other part of the airport terminal to talk further. There, Toh produced the original copy of the contract — the contents were the same as the one that had earlier been sent by QQ — and asked for payment of 27,000 yuan.

“Why do I have to pay now? Why can’t I pay at the office?” asked Xu.

Toh said it was late already and the office was closed. And that if he didn’t receive the money, he would get into trouble with his boss. Xu handed over the money.

Toh then said he would go get his car to take him to the factory’s dormitory and asked Xu to wait at the main door with his luggage. Minutes passed. Xu called Toh. “I’m just round the corner, I’m coming,” said Toh. More minutes passed but when Xu tried the number again, the phone had been switched off.

Despite the shock, Xu had the presence of mind to seek help from another Chinese national, a student returning to university in Singapore. The student him took him to a police booth at Terminal 3, where Xu was able to lodge a report. He was given a case number and the telephone number of an officer to contact if needed. He was also advised to go to the company as indicated on his Work Permit IPA the next morning, but if anything proved wrong with the employment contract, to go to the Ministry of Manpower. It was solid, actionable advice.

Xu called Zhang Shou, his friend who was working in Singapore, and spent the night in his room.

Saturday, 15 October 2011, around 10:00h:

Xu found the furniture company, which was located in the Ubi industrial area.  The boss was surprised to see him. The company was looking for a carpenter but Xu had no skills or qualification in that regard. Xu pulled out his IPA for his Work Permit, which surprised the boss again because, he said, he had never heard of the employment agency listed there (High Fly). He quickly found High Fly’s telephone number and phoned them. They said they’d send someone over within the hour.

Meanwhile, Xu asked the boss if he had a printing or publishing business as well. The boss said the furniture company was all he had. “Might you have some other job for me?” Xu asked. Regretfully, none, said the boss.

Saturday, 15 October 2011, 11:00 to 14:00h:

High Fly’s representative showed up at the furniture company, a guy that Xu had never seen before. What caught Xu’s eye, however, was a document that the representative had in his folder — it was a copy of Xu’s high school certificate which Xu had provided Toh weeks earlier.

“The agent in China had never asked for this document, only Toh did.” Xu explained its significance to me. “That copy in the folder could only have come from Toh.”

Saying he would sort things out, the representative asked Xu for his passport and IPA, and with these in hand went outside to make a phone call.  He never really returned to the room, but not long after, three heavyset men — from their accents, Xu believed they were Chinese nationals, not Singaporeans — appeared, and asked Xu to follow them to their office. “I assumed that they were also from High Fly and that we were going to High Fly’s office to untangle the mess,” said Xu.

He was wrong. When they arrived at the ‘0ffice’, Xu saw other Chinese nationals in a waiting room. “They told me this was a security company (let’s call it ‘Boxer Service Co.’) and that they were waiting to be sent back to China.”

Xu then told his handlers that he wanted to go to the Ministry of Manpower — following the advice the airport police had given him. They refused to let him out. “So I dialled 999 to call the police. I got that number the evening before when I made the police report at the airport.”

The police asked him for his location. Naturally, he didn’t know where he was, so he passed the phone to a member of the staff at Boxer Services who continued the conversation with the police in English. When the phone was returned to him, the police told him that his IPA had been cancelled. Said Xu: “I suspect that when the High Fly representative took my passport and IPA to make the first phone call, he must have called the Ministry of Manpower to cancel it.

“And then the policeman told me over the phone that I must stay with the security company and co-operate with them. If I run away, the agent or employer would be fined.”

Section 340 of the Penal Code lays out the offence known as Wrongful Confinement:

Wrongful confinement

340.  Whoever wrongfully restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits, is said “wrongfully to confine” that person.

(a) A causes Z to go within a walled space, and locks Z in. Z is thus prevented from proceeding in any direction beyond the circumscribing line of wall. A wrongfully confines Z.
(b) A places men with firearms at the outlets of a building and tells Z that they will fire at Z if Z attempts to leave the building. A wrongfully confines Z.
Our law enforcers seem unaware of the existence of this law.

After the phone call, the manager of Boxer Services came over to tell Xu that he had to stump up the money to be sent back to China. Xu would have none of it and insisted on leaving the premises, “but the gangsters encircled me and became menacing.”

Xu dialled 999 again. This time, the police agreed to come.

Saturday, 15 October 2011, 16:00 to 17:00h:

Three policemen showed up. They stood outside and spoke with the manager of Boxer Services. Then the policemen came in and told Xu: “You are fed, you have water to drink, so you should stay. If you attempt to leave, we will detain you too because you are an illegal stayer in Singapore.”

“But I have no money,” said Xu to the policemen, “how am I to pay for the ticket home?”

A further conversation developed between the police and the manager of Boxer Services, and eventually the manager agreed to cover the cost of the ticket. They’d aim for a flight the next day (Sunday 16th).

Xu then said his luggage was at his friend Zhang Shou’s place. Three men from Boxer Services then took him there to collect his things. (It appears from my interview notes that Zhang Shou followed them back to Boxer Services and spent the night that too — though that seems a little strange. My notes could be wrong.)

Sunday, 16 October 2011, around 09:00h:

Zhang Shou and Xu wanted to go out for breakfast together. “The gangster said my friend could go but not me. So Zhang Shou bought food for me instead.”

They waited together inside Boxer Services until 4 p.m. with no sign of an airticket. On enquiry, Xu was told it would now be for a flight on the 17th. Zhang Shou decided to leave.

(As later events would show, Zhang Shou took the opportunity to call his friends and make contact with HOME — Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics — to appeal for help.)

Monday, 17 October 2011, 02:00h:

Zhang Shou, two of his friends from China and Jolovan Wham of HOME showed up at Boxer Services. They insisted on speaking with Xu, who recalled:  “Jolovan told me that what Boxer Services Co was doing was wrong. And that if they sent me to the airport, I should refuse to board the plane, make my way to the airport police for help, and contact him (Jolovan) right away.

“The gangsters heard all this. They were standing around as Jolovan spoke to me.”

Monday, 17 October 2011, around 08:00h:

The manager of Boxer Services called Xu to his room to talk. “He told me: ‘If Jolovan takes you out, you will be caught by police. So the best thing to do if Jolovan comes again, don’t go with him.’ He added that if I didn’t co-operate, I wouldn’t get a ticket from the company, and that I would end up in tears.

“I said nothing.”

Monday, 17 October 2011, around 09:30h:

Jolovan arrived again. Two managers of Boxer Services went out to talk to him for about half an hour before Xu was called out. That was when Xu noticed that there were two policemen present as well. The policemen told him that Jolovan had signed a security bond of $5,000. With that, Jolovan could take him out of Boxer Services to HOME’s office. Naturally, Xu Liuqiang took up the offer straight away.

* * * * *

Monday afternoon, Xu went to the Ministry of Manpower to get an extension. He was given 14 days’ visa during which he could look for a job.

By the time Yawning Bread interviewed him, he had found one with a factory in Woodlands and was waiting for the formalities of a new Work Permit to be completed before starting work. It was his agent in China — the one he didn’t use, preferring Toh instead — that found him this job. Xu added, “This agent in China had never heard of Toh, so I don’t know how Toh got my name and number to call me directly while I was still in my hometown.”

Tuesday, Xu went to the airport to follow up on his cheating complaint. There he was introduced to an entire team working on his case, and asked to review some closed circuit TV footage. “I saw myself and there was even a brief glimpse of Toh in the distance, but it wasn’t clear enough to see his face.” As the reader would recall, Toh was careful to lead Xu away to another corner to talk and ask for the money. One suspects that Toh knew exactly where the CCTV cameras were located, and therefore that this was a well-planned scam.

Xu having provided the police with Toh’s mobile phone number — though the phone remained switched off — the police assured Xu that they had other means to track Toh down and that he would eventually be caught. Xu seemed happy with what the airport police were doing and is hopeful that he would get his 27,000 yuan back.

* * * * *

The contrast between the helpful and determined response of the airport police and the misdirected stance of the neighbourhood police is striking.

At the airport, the police saw very clearly that a crime had been committed, and they knew what to do. They clearly saw Xu as victim and were reassuring to him.

At Boxer Services, the police behaved as if they didn’t see any crime in progress. Their response suggested that they saw it all as a civil dispute, and they tailored their advice to tie in with what they probably surmised to be the politically desirable position: be tough on overstayers. Asking themselves how it was that Xu became an overstayer 24 hours after arriving in Singapore was not on the agenda. Asking themselves if it was right that somebody by means of a mere phone call or internet log-in could cancel somebody else’s IPA and thus render him an overstayer, was not a question that seemed to have occurred to the police. Nor wrongful confinement as provided for by the Penal Code.

Or look at the story another way: When money/property gets stolen, the police swing into action. When life and liberty is at stake, they may not even show up (as happened after Xu’s first phone call to the police). And finally, Xu’s liberty was obtained not because the police were persuaded of his rights but because Jolovan and HOME put up $5,000.

Slave markets operated in the same way.

The police say they fight crime — sounds obvious until we hear a story like this. What do they mean by crime? Not quite what you and I might understand by the term, nor even what our statute books say is a crime. ‘Crime’ seems to mean that which is at variance from political priorities and administrative fiat. If thugs help “cleanse” Singapore of “illegals” — social control being one of Singapore’s top priorities — thuggery and forcible detention are not crimes.

43 Responses to “Crime and ambivalence”

  1. 1 sgcynic 17 November 2011 at 17:27

    Despiccable, illogical, brainless. Any policeman can simply put himself in Xu’s shoes and detremine if it is an acceptable state of matters. If not, then? What type of justice is this? Am I to associate such an acceptable state of affairs with Singapore and to defend the system with my life!? The airport police is a face saving grace to the neighbourhood police.

  2. 2 Anonymous 17 November 2011 at 17:51

    In the first place, it is thugs who brought these people in and created all the problem.

    Toh should be dealt with severely. He put his victims at risk of being caned for over-staying. He should therefore be caned.

    I think the artificial low crime rate is due to police not logging these cases as crimes. Same goes with the botched number of drug offenders. Wong Kan Seng should have his pension revoked.

    Getting punched by a complete stranger is certainly not just a civil dispute. The police should handle.

  3. 3 Gazebo 17 November 2011 at 22:35

    I have a similar personal story to share. 2 years ago, I was with my family driving to Sentosa. Along the way, we got into a fairly serious car accident with one of the many trucks there.

    The situation was rather ugly, as our car was rather badly damaged. The truck driver, my sister and I got into a heated argument with regards to the accident. During the argument, the truck driver with no warning, took a hard punch at my face, which I managed to deflect somewhat, but nonetheless split the skin on my face. This was witnessed by the Sentosa security folks.

    I was livid, and reported to the police (who had just arrived at the scene) what had just happened. I wanted to sue the truck driver for assault. He was still trying to hit me, but was restrained.

    Then something astonishing happened. Statements were taken from all parties. And I was taken aside by a police officer. I reported exactly what transpired. And get this, the officer essentially refused to record certain details. Specifically, he kept coercing me into dropping the assault details. I really did not want to, but the officer persisted. Seeing that the situation was against me, and my young niece was crying, I eventually agreed to it. The truck driver simply got off and left the scene.

    In the end, I received a hefty repair bill, and a cut to the face.

    • 4 percevale 18 November 2011 at 06:50

      The Singapore Police Force, “Pride” of the land. “Protecting” our neighbourhoods, keeping it “safe”… lol

    • 5 Anonymous 18 November 2011 at 22:33

      you DEFINITELY should make this case big. It’s called ROAD RAGE.
      In Singapore, road rage = jail AND caning. Let justice be done unless you want the same to happen to your children, family and friends by road ragers who see that they cannot get into trouble.

      Fuck the police for trying to evade problems by not letting you make the statement you want to make. refuse to sign next time until the proper report is made. For now, you should really do something about the incident.

      • 6 Gazebo 19 November 2011 at 22:28

        i would have fought my case but seriously the situation was tougher than you imagine, because my 1 year old niece was screaming and the police essentially refused to help. but anyway, no excuse, maybe i bent over too easily.

        on a related note, this sort of ambivalent behavior by our police is also a reflection of the values singapore society celebrates. “moderation”. taking a stand somehow equates to being an extremist. and promoting false harmony by looking the other way is regarded as superior, compared to taking a stand and fighting for justice.

      • 7 Chanel 21 November 2011 at 16:46

        My friend, who was a former senior police officer, told me that many policemen try to minimise work for themselves by “advising” victims to drop their case. For every case pursued, the relevant policeman has to do a lot of paperwork and investigation work.

  4. 8 shoutloud 18 November 2011 at 00:55

    Have you reported a crime at a neighbourhood police post recently? I reported a theft in dwelling and the first question the nice police man asked when he looked up from his computer (I think he was playing Solitaire) was how come I did not call 999?

    Woah! Maybe he was being kind as I had to walk all the way to the nearby police post. I should have just made a phone call.

    Anyway, he quickly changed the topic and took my statement. The police took two months to dig out the CCTV footage and ask me down to look at the footage. I never expected to get my stuff back in the first place but I would expect more hard work from our friendly men in blue when they are not making Crimewatch.

    • 9 yawningbread 18 November 2011 at 01:26

      This experience tells me a lot about what is wrong with our police force too. Making a police report and calling 999 are two different things, they are not inter-substitutable.

      Calling 999 means calling them to come over; which they can refuse to do. They don’t even have to record what you say over the phone.

      Making a police report is getting the necessary details written down into a form, which the reporting person has to sign (you can’t sign over the phone!) and a copy is printed out and given to the reporting person for his record. There is a date and reference number. Thus to make a police report you HAVE to go to a police station in person, show your IC, etc.

      If the stolen item was insured, your insurer would want that written police report as a first step to processing your claim. Telling the insurer that “Oh, I called 999” does not substitute for that.

      If the constable thinks that calling 999 is equivalent to making a police report, he does not know his job. He is incompetent and a disgrace to the organisation.

      If the constable knows the difference but is trying to convince a member of the public to do the lesser thing in the belief that it is equivalent to making a police report, then that constable is a duplicitous shirker and slacker and a bigger disgrace to the organisation.

  5. 11 Anon j22W 18 November 2011 at 02:04

    I was assaulted with a weapon which resulted in a fracture and significant time off work. I filed a magistrates complaint. The police investigation dragged out for more than three years, during which time the IO actually called me up some time after the initial interview as he had forgotten about the first interview.

    I received a letter saying that charges would be dropped unless I signed and returned a letter to say that I wanted to continue with the complaint, without any further explanation. Thereafter, I received a letter from the court requesting attendance in court, with no further explanation. This turned out to be a mediation session. I was asked to go for further mediation sessions with my attacker, despite protesting strongly that this was totally inappropriate given the circumstances. Predictably, the mediation was not successful. Despite my attacker admitting to what he had done (in the form of an apology) in front of a judge during the mediation sessions, no further action was taken by the court. I did not accept the apology in place of formal charges being filed.

    I was informed by a lawyer that the statute of limitations on this crime is three years and thus I was not able to engage a lawyer to bring my own suite against the attacker. Prior to that, I had been advised to wait until the police concluded their investigation to see whether the police would file charges.

  6. 12 Desmond Lim 18 November 2011 at 08:35

    Wow, after reading this and all the comments so far, it seems that my China friends were not wrong in their assessment of our police force.

    But then again, I should have know, judging from a lot of my Singaporean friends who have had contact with them, said that they are more pen pushers than policemen. I assume that happens when you gen NSF to do it.

  7. 13 silau 18 November 2011 at 11:25

    Similar experience here. I recently purchased a home, and probably the previous owners owed money to some Ah Longs, as I found one day that there was paint splashed on my door. I went to the neighbourhood police post to report it, and instead of making a report, the guy behind the counter asked me to call the police hotline instead – apparently they have to route my case to a unit that deals specially with Ah Longs!

    When the cops did arrive, they were totally not reassuring… kept telling me that these things could keep happening, even if I take preventive measures. This despite there being a phone number sprayed on the wall next to my door, presumably that of the Ah Long’s. In the end I just put up a notice on my door saying the previous owners weren’t staying there anymore, with a contact number if anyone wants to get in touch with them. With that, no further incidents so far.

    The other thing that irked me was that the town council came over to clean the spray painting done by the gangsters on the walls but refused to wipe the paint off my door. That’s my problem apparently.

  8. 14 Rabbit 18 November 2011 at 12:43

    Apparently, our police force and msm reporters have the same gene because they were both quick to react to protect their self-centered ruling elite for very selfish reason – individual fast track promotion?. Matters that concerned peasants were hardly worth defending or newsworthy respectively if they were to paint negative light on the ruling party. The sudden withdrawal of outstanding social worker’s award meant for Jolvan Wham was probably pointing towards that direction of preventing further limelight disclosure of what he has done that MOM & PAP failed miserably in this respect.

    What are the people defending for or was it even worth defending the pap-tamed systems that could not even defend the people at such fundamental level. Many years ago, our country boasted about total defence campaign non-stop, how entertaining. Have we achieved anything, or the highfalutin campaign messages look as good as dead like our productivity campaign and many other rhetorical campaigns because the ruling elite is so screwed up with what they preached that people began to doubt Singapore leadership quality and start to question the purpose of loyalty in this country.

    Fortunately with one of the new Medias like this that carried out investigative and comprehensive reports to put our msm reporters to shame, we nearly prevent our country from heading into further disaster so to speak.

    There is no ripe time than now for Singapore HOME team led by PAP to take a leaf out of our “HOME” team of Jovan Wham who saved all these foreigners from falling thru the crack. This group of foreigners is not dumb and they will not keep quiet when they return to their country, Singapore image will be done with if we continue to be careless in treating all these foreigners. That explains why the police stationed at our INTERNATIONAL airport was swift to react than the LOCAL heartland policemen who are more likely to handcuff you for taking photos of flood than to assist you if you were violently treated by roadside hooligans. Arghh….so much for wanting to talk morals/values/ethics in school and pushing the burden back to students when the society created by the ruling party has non of it to speak of.

  9. 15 tk 18 November 2011 at 14:07

    i may have pointed this out before, but your statement, “When money/property gets stolen, the police swing into action. When life and liberty is at stake, they may not even show up” rings true for the judiciary as well.

    death for trafficking heroin >15g
    6 months in jail for possession of <1g of ice
    3 weeks in jail for shoplifting
    1 week in jail for killing a 5 year old girl by running her over, driving an illegally modified car at 85km /hr in a 50 km/hr zone.

    wah liao.

  10. 16 nocrimesingapore 18 November 2011 at 14:13

    This is terrible. Hope the MFA minister views the situation seriously to bring justice to these poor china guys who has too much trust that spore is a law-abiding country, never expect to be cheated.

    I’m much aware that overall our police force really sucks, that’s why I’m so baised agst WKS in last GE not just the MS escape. They only want to boast how efficient they are in solving a murder case. They will not want to help u to prevent a crime from happening, coz they dont get any credit. They adopt a very reactive attitude – action only after a crime has happened or someone is dead, otherwise there is no crime, dont call them. Dont expect them to have a proactive attitude in preventing crimes from happening which they feel is not their job, its the job of the public. What irks me is when the public/victim wants to help nap a criminal, the police refused to assist. When my mum’s h/phone was pickpocketed (from her bag), I made a police report. When I received an exorbitant telco bill 2 wks later, I called up the police station of my reported case, to seek assistance to trace the culprit from the called number shown on the phone bill. They were multiple calls to only one Vietnam number, obviously he’s a Vietnamese. The police refuse to assist saying they don’t work with overseas parties.

  11. 18 Saycheese 18 November 2011 at 15:15

    The police see no crime because the MOM is complicit in denying prevalence of human trafficking, the modern slave trade. What is happening is that the slave trade is de facto legal here with MOM taking no action against it.

  12. 19 FanaticD 18 November 2011 at 15:20

    This is what u get when u vote in people who are just after money and has no bit of humanity (even have, too fake) in them

  13. 20 ykiet 18 November 2011 at 16:46

    Yawningbread, the Govt has released statistics and said that violent crime has decreased.

  14. 21 Cassie 18 November 2011 at 18:36

    “Xu was a slim, bespectacled twenty-something, not at all like the muscular construction workers we more often see from China. Speaking a relatively unaccented Mandarin, he reminded Yawning Bread of a well-educated, bookish accountant.”

    How is this fact relevant to Xu’s plight? What if he had been muscular and spoke with accented Mandarin, would he be less deserving of sympathy? As someone who has struggled with prejudice, you would do well to avoid extending the same treatment to other minorities…


    • 22 Passerby 18 November 2011 at 23:45

      I think the point in mentioning Xu’s small frame is to highlight the feeling of helplessness he must have felt in the presence of three heavyset men preventing him from leaving the premises as they tried to extort money from him.

    • 23 Jeremy Tiang 19 November 2011 at 11:56

      I like it when Alex includes physical descriptions of the people he interviews. It humanizes them. There are so many horrific stories of mistreated foreign workers, it’s helpful to have a visual reference to remind us these are real people, not just case studies.

  15. 24 george 18 November 2011 at 18:40

    The rot is obviously deep seated. Practically, everyone has a negative tale or an experience about the SPF, including myself.

    IMO, those years under our erstwhile minister Wong Can’t Sing of Home Affairs is that he has apparently a lot to answer for for the present state of affairs of the SPF. It was fortuitous that his neglect and mismanagement culminated in the walking out of jail of the most dangerous terrorists of the country!

    I hope someone would move a motion in parliament to censure Wong and ask for a commission of enquiry to look into as to why he should be charged for gross negligence and dereliction of duty as minister of Home Affairs with a view at the minimum of reducing if not remove his pension.

    This is the only way for the country to make sure that politicians and political leaders are brought book for failure to do his job properly. Look at what is happening all over the world where such leaders are found. Recently good examples are in fact mostly Asians – Pakistan, China, Israel, Taiwan and the latest, the Philippines.

    Would Singaporeans ever have the opportunity to see a deserving leader/minister disciplined and pay for conduct prejudicial to the security and running of the country?

  16. 25 Yujuan 19 November 2011 at 00:49

    Think many of us get one thing wrong. The neighbourhood Police are staffed with young policemen who are not trained to deal with complicated crimes. They only do jobs like changing addresses on ICs, going over to homes to observe and record domestic quarrels and other small, insignificant matters. Should contact CID as fraud and wrongful confinement are committed in this case.
    How capable and sense of crime analysis our SPF has, we have had already got a taste of in terrorist Mas Selamat case. The Police at the Detention Centre in Whitley Road did not see the seriousness in keeping a stricter guard on Mas, while for an ordinary housebreaking criminal, he is bound up with cuffs and all.
    Our neighbouring countries’ Police Security personnel are able to net Singapore’s terrorists for us, while our own could not even deal with a limping Mas, and worst of all, was unable to nab him in our small little island state, as compared to the vast countryside of Malaysia and Indonesia.
    Very malu.

  17. 26 Dylan 19 November 2011 at 01:43

    We have a very unique situation in Singapore where it is much better to be the attacker then the attackee. Think about it, the aggressor gets to vent his anger, boost his ego, win the fight physically and get away scot-free!

    So guys, the next time an argument ensues, make sure your fist connects with the guy’s jaws first. In fact, don’t even attempt to argue, just whack. That’s what our esteemed police force is sanctioning what…

  18. 27 jianshengjiang 19 November 2011 at 02:04

    there’s a reason why Interpol will be setting up its HQ here and why a former Police Commissioner was the Head of Interpol.

    I’ve worked in 3 different continents in a decade.

    Policing is a very tough work. SPF ranks highly compared to the rest of the world.

    in my honest opinion. thanks.

    • 28 yawningbread 19 November 2011 at 10:20

      You might like to explain either (a) what credentials you have that make you a good judge of police efficacy/effectiveness, or (b) what experiences you have that formed your judgement.

    • 29 Poker Player 21 November 2011 at 11:10

      “a former Police Commissioner was the Head of Interpol.”

      Cough[Jackie Selebi]Cough

      • 30 yawningbread 21 November 2011 at 14:28

        If you refer to this (, you’ll see an AFP report that Singapore Police Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui was elected to be President of Interpol for a 4-year term starting 2008.

        If you refer to an earlier article and scroll down to the para starting with “Others rounded up, all members of high society . . . ” you will see more about a wanted man on Interpol list who fled from Singapore. Shadrake in his book asked a pertinent question on pages 146 and 147: why is it that even when a Singaporean was president of Interpol, no great effort was made to trace one of our fugitives?

      • 31 Poker Player 21 November 2011 at 15:54

        Makes you proud of the Singapore justice system and its running. Guy who does the expose is jailed. One of his subjects managed to leave Singapore even with his passport impounded.

      • 32 Chanel 24 November 2011 at 10:06

        Your earlier article didn’t mention a mass arrest of drug users a few years ago in S’pore. Two prominent drug users were amongst those arrested: one a TV personality and the other, the son of a senior Judge in S’pore. Both were let off with only a slap on their slender wrists.

  19. 33 digitzen 19 November 2011 at 13:02

    After reading this thread, me can’t help feeling
    that those duty-bound to uphold justice in Sin
    are making a mockery of our Justice System.
    Upholding justice?
    Not many here believe in it.

  20. 34 Saycheese 19 November 2011 at 15:08

    A great thing about the SPF – you do not have to pay a bribe to make a report and have your statement taken!

  21. 35 SG Girl 19 November 2011 at 16:12

    Whenever I hear of victims of assualt and battery, and the attackers are not charged; my blood pressure goes up. If the law can’t protect us, who can?

  22. 36 Chow 19 November 2011 at 21:36

    Once a large (more than twenty) youths, all dressed in black, gathered at the void deck of my block of flats in the wee hours of the morning. I called the nearest police centre to check on them. They never came.

    There was another time my bag was stolen. I made a police report but of course nothing was ever done. No CCTV footage reviewed. Nothing. I guess they were all too busy with other things.

    Isn’t it ironic that they used to put up banners that read: “Low crime doesn’t mean low crime”? After all these stories it would seem that all that reduction in crime rates may be due to them not ‘taking’ cases rather than people committing less crime. I find it difficult to believe that crime rates can decrease when the population soars…

  23. 37 AnT 21 November 2011 at 01:46

    Sorry to tell you folks this.

    The current state of police affairs and generally that in the country where foreigners ride roughshod over the locals is largely due to the citizenry being cowed every round including the latest just before polling. Once you have installed a monster, you must be prepared to sacrifice your life and valuables as the many accounts here testify. And don’t forget the dignity as well, much as it may not be calculated in dollars and sense.

    Where can you find a place where you pay billions for a family to enjoy power and money and get all the social and economic faults blamed on the very group of people they have been empowered to ‘protect’ and can still walk away without the slightest protest after calling the suffrage daft?

    Even Gaddaffi isn’t that lucky. But again, the Libyans have both brawns and brains.

  24. 38 Chanel 21 November 2011 at 16:41

    Our laws mandate jailing and caning for vandalism, but in an assault (where bodily injuries are sustained), our laws say that it is a “non-seizable” offense and that if the victim wants to pursue, he/she has to file a magistrate complaint.

    Now, filing a magistrate complaint is far from easy and hassle-free. You would have to make a trip to the Subordinate Courts to swear and have to meet your attacker in a face-to-face mediation. If mediation is fruitless, the Complainant (i.e. victim) then have to personally serve a Summon to the Respondent (i.e. the attacker) to effect a court hearing. If the victim is afraid of facing the attacker, he/she would have to engage a lawyer to serve the Summon!!

    In short, filiing a magistrate complaint requires not only time and significant amount of money, it also entails the attacker having an opportunity to intimidate the victim further in fac-to-face meeting!

    Do our law makers regard physical property as being more important than bodily harm? In other developed countries, asssault cases would earn the attacker at least a night in jail, if not more.

    Do we really have a “low” crime rate in S’pore? Or is it just an illusion because the laws do not classify assaults as crime?

  25. 39 Sharon Oh 23 November 2011 at 08:42

    Following the AFP report that Singapore Police Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui was elected to be President of Interpol for a 4-year term starting 2008. Reading this article leaves me to question “Isn’t your Interpol stint an embarrassment to SG?” Our Prime Minister – are you aware of your very own shenanigans in your Police Force ??

  26. 40 anonymous 23 November 2011 at 20:38

    So have they caught Toh? They should be able to track him through the High Fly rep who got Xu’s high school cert through him right?

  27. 41 Stoppy 29 November 2011 at 08:56

    I’ve had many unpleasant encounters with our SPF but 2 incidences remain most vivid.

    1. Some 10yrs ago, valuables were stolen by movers. My mother realized it as she checked the items as soon as all the boxes were offload. Unfortunately the movers were gone and following up with the company yield no result. We promptly went down to make a police report. Our dear officers spend a good 45mins convincing us not to make a police report. Some out of the world reason were: the company can sue us for slander for making a police report against them.

    2. 4yrs ago, I had a persistent peeping Tom that climbed the pipes outside our HDB flat window to look into our living room late at night. I called the police on 3 different occasions ( both 999 & neighbourhood police post number). Each time, I was told to relax and thar it was probably someone bored after a soccer match as it was soccer season?!? I eventually went down to the police station (the big one right opposite my house), where I was once again persuaded not to make a police report because,” such cases usually can’t be solved anyway” and “pretty girl sure invite peeping Tom”???? They eventually took down details as the perping Tom got bold enough to appear during the day ( easy for him to run as our flat is just beside the stairs). I got one follow up telling me they were still investigating and that was the last I heard from them.

  28. 42 payalebar 5 December 2011 at 00:01

    My fellow citizens, have you ever made a complaint to a Government department, Stat Board? MP even the PM. Do you receive a reply? Very rarely I suppose. When you do receive a reply do you not feel that the reply is useless because it does not answer your questions but answers its own questions which it presumes you have asked. So between deep silence and nonsense you are trapped and would very likely give up. Sometimes however you can’t give up because the assault by the State is on- going and your life is diminished by the continuance of the assault. To give you an example of what I mean, here is my story. There was a period of two years when the ICA would stop me and my family at immigration checkpoints for nothing, just to humiliate us. One day at the Causeway checkpoint, I was told to park and go to a room for the usual waiting. I did not park but drove straight on. The whole checkpoints was then filled with the sound of sirens. Officers ran after my car and when I finally came out of the car it was a full 20 minutes. For 20 minutes that immigration checkpoint at the Causeway came to a standstill.
    Still nothing was spoken to me or my wife about why ICA must stopped us then. I was allowed to drive off without waiting at the office.After that event, ICA ceased stopping us. Nor did they arrest me for not obeying the order to park my car.
    You know why? Because the ICA knows that it is acting illegally. A prominent Law firm asked the ISD who in turn instructed the ICA to do the dirty tricks on us at immigration checkpoints.This to intimidate us sufficiently so we don’t have the guts to fight for justice at the impending Court Hearings.
    If I had not reacted the way I did, that Law firm would have had its way with us.
    During these fifty years , the lines of demarkation between State institutions and private elites have been blurred. Conflict of interest is everywhere. Symbiotic relationships are formed between State Institutions and powerful private firms and individuals to gain competitive advantage and facilitate preying on the citizenry. Coupled with deep Silence as a tool of oppression, the citizenry has no escape from bullying behaviour by elites connected with the Ruling Party.. We must never give up our freedom of speech, freedom to think for ourselves, freedom to protest, freedom to fight back.

    There is no better deal for you if you quietly succumb to the bullying by State Elites. You get more of it instead of less. Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians and all those nations who rose up against their dictators know that to be cowed down before tyranny is to incite the tyrant to depths of madness.

  29. 43 Anon K120 29 January 2013 at 13:22

    I was in a case similar to one in the comments. I was physically attacked, bleeding, and after being treated in the hospital I visited a police station to make a report. The police officer wasn’t interested in taking down the details and kept trying to talk me out of lodging a report.

    Another time due to loud noises to assemble facilties for a national day function at 1am outside my apartment I called the police to complain. nothing happened. About an hour later I personally went to the police station and saw around 10 officers chatting and drinking coffee(?). As I approached the door an officer stepped forward to block me from entering the station and asked what I wanted. After listening he sent me off. I was surprised that there so many police doing nothing, and that a member of the public would be prevented from entering the police station (presumably because it would interrupt their social activity)

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