From ‘Two cops, two different reactions from COI’, 28 Feb 2014, article by Lim Yan Liang, Walter Sim, ST
ONE young officer was praised, a seasoned veteran chastised. Such were the contrasting reactions from the Committee of Inquiry (COI) on day seven of the hearing into the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year.
Even as Sergeant Fadli Shaifuddin Mohamed Sani was commended by the committee for confronting the violent mob with only a baton in hand, Senior Station Inspector Muhammad Adil Lawi had to defend his actions, which were recorded on video. The clip, which showed a group of auxiliary police and Home Team officers, including SSI Adil, running out of an ambulance, was circulated widely on the Internet after the incident.
The same footage was played during the inquiry while SSI Adil was on the witness stand yesterday. “You were the law, and you were running away, how does that reflect on the police force?” former NTUC president John De Payva asked the Traffic Police officer.
…When asked by the COI if his decision to retreat was an “act of cowardice“, SSI Adil disagreed and said: “At no time was I afraid.”
Former Police Commissioner Tee Tua Ba also blamed the fleeing cops for ‘allowing’ the rioters to take control, despite the vehicle bursting into flames soon after. I wonder what an ex police chief would have done in that situation. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid when you’re clearly outnumbered by a homicidal mob, and you need heroes to live to fight another day when the odds of survival seem low, rather than embark on a suicide mission and put the whole team in jeopardy, especially when our officers have admitted that they weren’t trained for a ‘full scale riot’. They even needed the help of some Good Samaritan workers to dash out of the ambulance in one piece. All that’s missing from the clip is some Benny Hill music.
Way back in the 1950′s during the Maria Hertogh riots, people were also disappointed in the police’s response to unruly mobs, namely ‘running into a five-foot-way’. Others blamed it on the ethnic makeup of the force, lauding Gurkhas while describing Malay constables with kanda sticks as ‘just looking’ on. So why hasn’t anyone offered suggestions on how the Little India situation could have been better handled then? Should the team have taken the ambulance wheel and mow down violent rioters in GTA fashion, charge out screaming armed to the teeth with defibrillators and syringes, or scatter vials of denatured alcohol like one tossing sausages to a pack of rabid dogs?
Or should we have called THIS GUY?
Instead of accusing the police of being yellow-bellied cowards, how about considering relative INEXPERIENCE perhaps? No amount of riot simulation exercises will prepare you for the events that unfolded in Little India, it’s like aceing all the drills in NS but still refraining from shooting at a human being in an actual war. No senior officer put on the spot would admit that they were panicking and didn’t know what to do, using terms like ‘evacuation’ and ‘tactical retreat’ when what they were really doing, as most would, was running for their damn lives.
It’s easy, of course, to sit on a COI high chair and praise a lone wolf for charging at the mob risking his life while criticising others for not being badass enough while trapped in a vehicle. The members of the COI look like part of the Expendables themselves. Maybe just posing this way should be enough to make the rioters cower in fear without having to raise a weapon at all.