From ‘Ex-policeman beaten up by off-duty Gurkhas’, 7 April 2012, article in insing.com
A former policeman was allegedly beaten up by nine off-duty Gurkha police officers at Clarke Quay last Sunday. According to Shin Min Daily News, Mr Rama, 38, a logistics manager and ex-police officer, had gone with four friends for a drink at a nightspot in the area last Saturday evening.
When the group left the establishment at about 3am, they encountered a large group of nine men outside who appeared to be drunk, Mr Rama’s wife told reporters. The men instantly took an interest in Mr Rama’s female friends, and tried to flirt with them.
But Mr Rama and his friends did not take the harassment well and warned the men to back off. Things quickly turned sour between the two groups, whom were both intoxicated. The two parties were about to go their separate ways when one of the nine men made a rude gesture with his middle finger to the other group.
According to Mr Rama’s wife, nobody knew who threw the first punch in the ensuing brawl, but it left Mr Rama bleeding from his brain and comatose in the intensive care unit for three days. She added that he is now able to speak a few words but will be hospitalised for a period of time.
The police have verified this incident and confirmed that the nine men involved were junior Gurkha police officers. All nine have since been suspended while under investigations and one of them has been charged with causing grievous hurt.
The Gurkhas were among the first ‘foreign talents’ here, established in 1949 to safeguard key installations and renown for their fierce loyalty, courage, willingness to die and prowess with a curved blade known as the kukri. Branded as merciless jungle warriors, Gurkhas were last unleashed into battle against Malayan communists in the fifties. Today, they’ve taken on more passive, underwhelming roles like embassy and prison guards. Their competence in such nanny roles was questioned when a lapse in supervision by a couple of Gurkhas at Whitley Detention led to Mas Selamat’s toilet escape. Elsewhere in the world, Gurkhas are beating off gangs of Taliban with machine gun TRIPODS. These are men born to FIGHT, and what they’re made to do here is like tossing a lion a ball of yarn to play with, or putting a Viking on board to Star Cruises liner.
Much bloodcurdling fable and hearsay surround the rugged, fearless Gurkha, that their kukri must ‘taste blood’ once it’s removed from its sheath, that it’s sharp enough to ‘lop off an oxen’s head’ in one fell swoop, that the community organises blood rituals such as the buffalo-slaying Jai Durga, that they are ‘smiling killers’ who will slit your throat before you can even blink. Their motto was said to be ‘It’s better to die than be a coward’, the kind of kamikaze valor and romantic machismo you would only find these days in B-grade action flicks, where one can imagine the Gurkha as the berserking warrior who, even with a sword protruding out of his bloody chest, would slay the nearest enemy with the tip of its blade before dying. Gurkha babies probably knew how to strangle a boar before learning how to suckle. While Singaporean kids are swiping iPads with their fingers, Gurkha kids are using theirs to poke venomous cobras in the eyes.
According to the SPF website, Gurkhas appear to be a breed of super-soldier selected for their ‘physical and mental robustness, resourcefulness and an uncomplaining dependability’. ‘Robustness’ comes across as an understatement in the light of the Gurkha’s tribal mystique as dedicated killing machines. So how much of this Spartan-like fortitude still rings true today? Has the once throat-slitting kukri been relegated to a tool for prying open durians and coconuts? Can a Gurkha in Singapore still fend off a gang of teenage rioters armed with parangs? Has the lack of field clobbering made the force soft? How relevant is a mountain warrior in the flat concrete jungle that is Singapore? Earlier this year it took FOUR off-duty Gurkhas to subdue a bear-hugging molester, which, if the legendary might of the Gurkha is to be believed, would be the equivalent of a human pile of 10 wimpy Singaporean men, though the culprit wasn’t exactly the Incredible Hulk to begin with.
So where else to channel one’s genetic lust for blood than through senseless brawls? In 1986, More than a 100 Gurkhas were sacked by the British Army after a tent fight in Hawaii. A bar brawl involving 15 Gurkhas in 2001, Belize, led to the death of a teenager. Here in 2008, a scuffle among Gurkha ranks over pay matters was reported in Mount Vernon, which called into question this so-called ‘uncomplaining dependability’. Incidentally, the last reported case of a drunk Gurkha attacking people was in 1949, the very year that the contingent was set up. These are isolated incidents of course, and the Gurkhas still inspire awe, if not for their proud ancestry and contributions to home security then their terrifying mastery with kukri. A Gurkha can gut Jabba the Hutt with a few simple twists of the wrist. Singaporean men can’t knock mangoes off a tree with a catapult if their lives depended on it.