“We pledge to be loyal and true to the Police service and the Republic of Singapore.
We pledge to uphold the law, to protect life and property, to prevent and detect crime.
We pledge to discharge our responsibilities without fear or favour, regardless of race, language or religion.
We pledge to strive for excellence, to be proactive and to exercise initiative in our duties.
We pledge to serve our community and our country and to be courteous and humane in our dealings with every fellowman.”
- The Singapore Police Pledge
The Singapore Police Force has gotten a new Commissioner, Hoong Wee Teck the former CID chief. And we would like to welcome him and wish him all the best in fulfilling a very tough job. Not that the Singapore crime scene is rough to begin with. This is not Mexico.
But to attain the standard of policing that is the envy of the world, and to achieve plaudits for Singapore’s low crime rate are something that should be applauded and not be taken for granted. It is the result of all the hard work that our men and women in blue has put forth and as their chief, he has to be given some credit and as the new chief, Hoong surely will have the job cut-up for him.
We have one request for him though. And that is to bring the Police Force back to the basics. Meaning, to embody the ideals and principles as cogently recited in the Police pledge. For the past many years, it seems that the Police Force has meandered away from these ideals towards becoming soft and slow to respond to incidents. This might not actually be true but it is the perception that one gets when looking at the way the Police Force had reacted to some of the high-profile cases. And in crime fighting and prevention, perception is 75% of the battle.
A few cases came to mind. One is the Little India riot where Policemen were captured on camera hiding in an ambulance and running away from the scene. They were clearly not prepared and had clearly forgotten their pledge to discharge their responsibilities without fear.
And then there was the Jover Chew case where apparently the Police did not want to interfere citing the reason that it was a private contractual matter and that they were powerless. But as soon as the internet went aflame regarding the case, sprouting vigilantes who decided to name and shame and threatened to take matters into their own hands, the Police suddenly realised that they did actually have the power to investigate and began to charge Jover and raid the shop.
Another case was the illegal gathering at Hong Lim Park by the `Return Our CPF’ movement. The movement did not have a permit but yet were allowed to conduct their protest, disrupting another function barely 20 meters from a Police post.
And one only needs to go to Geylang to come back with the perception that the Police are weak and ineffective. Illegal medicines and contraband cigarettes are being sold openly and prostitutes lining the streets soliciting for business.
Granted the various Ministries do have their own regulatory bodies. But Singaporeans look at the Police Force as the overarching body that will step in when the other agencies are not responding or indecisive.
Maybe this softly-softly approach by the Police is a public relations effort to re-brand the Force to be more genial and to banish the perception that Singapore is a Police state. But let’s get one thing straight. Most Singaporeans do not care whether we are a Police state or not. What we do care is that we are still able to walk the streets late at night without fear of being robbed or molested. And we expect the Police to be there in times of distress and when the law is required to be upheld. We are used to the `zero-tolerance’ policy as far as crime and misdemeanour are concerned. It is this policy that has made Singapore into one of the safest and most liveable cities in the world.
So to Mr Hoong Wee Teck we say; all the best in your endeavours. We expect nothing less.