Unarmed man robbing Holland Village Stan Chart bank

From ‘Manhunt for Standard Chartered bank robber at Holland Village’, 7 July 2016, article by Lianne Chia and Diane Leow, CNA

A manhunt is underway at Holland Village, as police investigate a robbery that took place at Standard Chartered Bank on Thursday (Jul 7) morning.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the suspect made off with S$30,000 from the Standard Chartered branch, and was not armed at the time.

The branch was closed after the incident. The bank said it filed a police report immediately, and is working with the police on investigations. “We would like to highlight that the safety of our customers and staff is top priority and our branch staff are all well-trained to react to such situations,” StanChart said in a statement.

Police earlier confirmed that they are investigating a robbery at the bank which took place at 11.25am.

…Bank robberies are rare in Singapore. In November 2008, a man dressed as a woman attempted to rob a United Overseas Bank branch at City Plaza on Geylang Road.

It’s been close to 2 days since the robbery at time of writing and the robber is still on the run. By this time, if you had spray painted a HDB block with anti-PAP slogans you and your friends would have been hauled into a police van. Yes, in Singapore, you can’t escape if you vandalise public property, but rob a bank and you may elude the police for more than 10 years if you’re lucky, like the sole mastermind behind the 2004 West Coast POSB bank robbery, who successfully made off with $37,000 with the help of a fruit knife and a WOODEN PLANK. The Stan Chart robber had nothing more than a very convincing note to the teller.

The first telltale sign of a potential bank robber is what he puts on his head or over his face. A hoodie is a dead giveaway. A motorcycle helmet. A surgical mask – possibly. But if you walk into a bank planning to steal money with a STRAW HAT like you just came out of your Hokkien Mee stall, then your plan is DOOMED from the start. DOOMED.

With neither witnesses or the police giving details of what exactly happened in the bank, one can only speculate about how a single person can bypass security and coolly steal wads of cash without the usual drama most of us associate with bank robberies: Toy guns, taking hostages, bombs, getaway cars, wearing stocking over your head. If a previous successful robber could figure out the exact dimensions of a wooden plank to jam a door, I suppose the Stan Chart perpetrator could accomplish the same deed through sheer methodical research. Or by watching repeats of Ocean’s Eleven.

There doesn’t seem to be an elaborate scheme here, unlike the 1970 case of a man conspiring with 5 others to pull off a bogus heist of his own bank. It took 3 weeks for the crime to be solved and the stolen quarter of a million dollars recovered. This remains the biggest bank robbery in Singapore’s history, one that is faithful to the typical bank robber scenario where a gun is waved and the actual words ‘THIS IS A HOLD UP’ were uttered. Today, if you want to steal from your own company, you don’t need to plan a full scale robbery. Some do it through pineapple tarts.

Unlike other petty criminals or upskirt voyeurs, bank robbers have the mystique of romantic banditry about them. Internet commentators have given the guy a thumbs up for breaking the establishment. Jokes have been made at Stan Chart’s expense. Sales of hoodies and mustard pants may skyrocket. Still, I doubt the reception towards a serious offense potentially punishable by death if you carried real guns would be this laissez-faire had the robber not been a Caucasian, but a PRC instead. If it had been any foreigner other than a white guy, the Internet would probably hunt him down while the cops continue checking dustbins for non-existent weapons all over Chip Bee Gardens.

UPDATE: The robber was caught 3 days after the incident in Bangkok. Go Home Team!

NS Man wants permission to open fire

From ‘Police reports made  on man’s ‘open fire’ comment in response to FB post on Pink Dot’, 13 June 2016, article by Koh Xing Hui, ST

A man’s Facebook comment that he would like to”open fire“, made in response to a post on foreign sponsorship of a recent gay rally in Singapore, has caught the attention of the community on Monday (June 13).

Police reports have been made regarding the comment by a Bryan Lim that read: “I am a Singaporean citizen. I am a NSman. I am a father. And I swore to protect my nation.

Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes.”

The comment was made on a post on the We Are Against Pink Dot Facebook page. The post was on foreign sponsorship of the annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rally Pink Dot, held at the Hong Lim Park on June 4.

It is not clear who Mr Lim is targeting – the LGBT community or those who support the gay cause.

But in the light of the gay club shooting in Orlando in the United States on Sunday, which left 50 dead and 53 others injured, members of the LGBT community here are spooked and have lodged police reports.

Despite Bryan’s subsequent claims that his ‘threats’ were ‘taken out of context’ and that he was referring to Bloomberg and not the LGBT community, what makes his FB post problematic is how it is framed as a defence of the nation in an imaginary war, whether the enemy are the foreign devils imposing their ‘Western values’ on us, or those advocating a LGBT ‘lifestyle’.

The army does in fact, train us to ‘open fire’, and that really is what NSmen are supposed to do when the sovereignty of the nation is at stake. It’s just unfortunate that Bryan’s lamentable remark came in the light of the deadly Orlando hate-crime shooting, which was spookily attributed to the alleged killer flying into a rage after seeing two men kissing in public. No wonder MDA decided to cut the Les Miserables gay kiss scene. We don’t want to have anti-gay psychotics barging into the Esplanade theatre slashing random people with parangs (Thank goodness for our strict assault rifle laws!). Maybe it was all for our own safety.

Arrests have been made against tough guys acting our their violent fantasies on Facebook. This one was more specific, in reference to the Benjamin Lim suicide case:

Please reveal the identity of the 5 plain clothes officers and we go handle them ourselves. Kill them.

As if hunting down police officers wasn’t enough, some vow to set Ministers and the PAP on fire, like this guy:

It is time to burn Vivian Balakrishnan and the PAP! Rally together and vote them out!

As far as I know, no one has actually been charged and imprisoned for expressing murderous intent through social media (though one 16 year old boy has been jailed for far lesser crimes), and it’s unlikely that Bryan Lim, father, NSman, WAAPD (We are against Pink Dot) fan, will be punished under the law for inciting violence. But this is just one man speaking for himself. The analogy of war between all things good and pure and the LGBT ‘movement’ was started in the first place by men of substantial influence who are supposed to lead by example, in particular Christian pastors.

In 2013, pastor Yang Tuck Loong of the Cornerstone Community church was reported to the Police for his call to arms, urging his flock to prepare for war and be ‘battle ready’ against the ‘powers of darkness‘. God knows what a preacher with a shotgun would do given the circumstances. There is already a villain on the pro-family side of this war, and the surname of this man that the more passionate members of Team LGBT love to hate rhymes with ‘Wrong’.

It is because of such powerful war metaphors, delivered in blatant contrast to Christian teachings of love and compassion, that those on either side of the sexuality divide form factions, be it Pink Dot, WAAPD or the Wear White campaign. It’s like those petty House wars in Game of Thrones, when the real threat of the Undead is knocking right outside our defenses. Ignorance, a mob mentality and a supervillian-magician in the form of a megachurch pastor make a potent, explosive mix, and we’re going nowhere fast in this gay debate if people on both camps keep lobbing firebombs at each other. For every Bryan Lim homophobe threatening to shoot innocent people, there’s someone in support of the LGBT cause flaming Bryan in return, even bringing his children into it (What if your child turns out gay etc). You guys should just organise arm wrestling matches among yourselves as an outlet for your anger before ejaculating all this ridiculous machismo over Facebook.

So much hate, and to what end? Whether it’s Bloom-goddamn-berg or Pink Dot supporters, wishing violent death upon people through public announcements, whatever your religious inclinations, is a step backward in our move towards a compassionate, forgiving society. It’s ironic that Bryan Lim references little ‘Buddha’ and ‘Jesus’ in one of his previous posts because surely they wouldn’t approve of bigotry or resolving problems with guns. You know nothing about religion, Bryan Lim. A true patriot would never harbour ill feelings toward his fellow Singaporeans, whatever their sexual orientation.

As an employer I would frown upon such behaviour calling for violence just because something contravenes my principles.  Such anger should be channeled to more productive ends rather than ‘opening fire’ and instead shooting yourself in the foot. I hope Bryan Lim learns his lesson, becomes a kinder father and NSMan and the only instance when he should ever ‘open fire’ is at a backyward BBQ where all his LGBT friends are invited. Or if he’s really serious about protecting the nation from collapsing into a moral war he could do everyone a favour and quit Facebook altogether.

Tampines 1 reported to police for racial discrimination

From ‘Women files police report against Tampines 1 for alleged racial discrimination; mall issues apology’, 9 April 2016, ST

A woman filed a police report on Friday (April 8) against Tampines 1 shopping mall, alleging that she was subjected to racial discrimination by an employee of the mall.

The mall had earlier issued a public apology to businesswoman Diana Hairul, and told The Straits Times it had counselled the employee about her actions.

Ms Diana, 36, who uploaded on Facebook on Thursday (April 7) evening a screenshot of an e-mail she received from the employee, wrote that she had felt discriminated by the reply.

The e-mail read: “Hi Dee, We are not so keen to run a Malay road show as our target audience are mainly Chinese. Thus, we regret to inform you that we are unable to rent a space to you.”

What’s shocking to me is not so much that a police report is being filed, since the police have been activated for more petty things, like a child getting scolded by a teacher. What’s unnerving is Diana’s FB post and Tampines MP Masagos Zulkifli’s follow up.

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First, she specifically addressed the Malay Muslim community. She didn’t say ‘Hey hey everyone’.  Then there’s ‘rejected US’, which by implication to her first sentence suggests that Tampines 1 wasn’t just declining her business, but Malays in general. The use of CAPS on ‘mainly the chinese’ is to emphasise that this is a race issue. And oh, you should feel discriminated ‘against’, not ‘feel discriminated’, but I think people would have been drowned in CAPS by then to notice. People complain about how Tampines 1’s email was worded but in all fairness, the complainant’s rant and its capacity to incite negative feelings is worth looking into as well.

From a business standpoint, Tampines 1 should have done its calculations and decided that a Hari Raya road show simply would not be profitable. The trick is fudging the answer to make it seem like such road shows are not compatible with the mall’s ‘theme’ or ‘direction’ (They eventually gave the excuse that they were fully booked). We also should not expect businesses to patronise a certain race at the expense of their bottom line. If I were to propose to those in charge at Geylang Serai market that I want to sell Chinese new year decorations, it’s likely that I’ll get rejected because of the obvious ‘target audience’ in the area. Likewise if I were a real estate agent intending to sell a house in Kampong Glam, I’m not going to ‘feel discriminated’ if my boss decides it’s better for my Malay colleague to pitch the sale.

Fine if a member of public makes a commotion over something businesses have to manage discreetly on a daily basis. Anyone who’s mature and sensible enough wouldn’t be riled by Diana’s outburst into believing that Tampines 1 is anti-Malay and doesn’t want their money. When news broke that a Chinese man attacked 3 madrasah students we didn’t descend into a mob. So yes, we can be certain that Singaporeans are rational people and will not boycott Tampines 1 over an isolated incident, no matter how someone tries to assault our senses with complaints in CAPS.

I’m also not too sure about MP Masagos’ strongly worded response on his FB. (Post was deleted at time of writing. Hmmm..)

masagos1_0

‘INSENSITIVE AND INCOMPETENT’, ‘SPREAD ILL WILL’, “SHAME ON YOU!’.

Insensitive, yes, but I don’t think the staff deserves the rest of the berating. Spreading ‘ill will’ is a serious charge, the kind that will land you in court. Didn’t Minister Gan just tell us to develop a ‘learning culture‘ from such mistakes? Has the Minister considered the career repercussions of the affected staff from this public bashing? As a public figure I would have expected something more neutral, diplomatic and forgiving, like ‘Let us all learn from this lesson in our bid to become more inclusive’, or ‘The reply was a missed opportunity. Businesses could emphasise communication skills as part of their training programme’, or ‘The staff may wish to apply for course via SkillsFuture so that such incidents may be avoided’. Taking sides, shaming and fanning flames on the matter short of accusing people of Islamophobia helps no one.

This was Masagos’ response to the Paya Lebar assault earlier in the month.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 9.48.27 AM

Yes, more ‘SHAME ON YOUs’, though in this case he did urge us not to ‘incite hatred and division’. In other words, don’t stir shit while the Police are investigating. The same applies to the Tampines 1 case, whatever the Police are doing to resolve the matter while at the same time managing ‘walking time bombs’ in Little India.

Meanwhile I’ll continue to patronise Tampines 1, Hari Raya bazaar or no bazaar, and hopefully it doesn’t turn into the Little Chinatown of Tampines after this incident. If there’s any mall that deserves to have the police knocking on their doors, it’s not one as supposedly ‘racist’ as Tampines Mall is, but those with the potential to randomly kill you. Jem, I’m talking to you.

LTA enforcement officer arrested for affray

From ‘Suspended LTA enforcement officer arrested by police after scuffle with Uber driver’, 28 Nov 2015, article in CNA

A Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement officer who was suspended from all duties after being caught on video in a scuffle with another man – said to be an Uber driver – has been arrested by the police for affray.

…In the video, a man in an LTA enforcement officer’s uniform is seen throwing a punch at another man clad in a blue polo tee, and both end up scuffling until a bystander intervenes.

A netizen identified as Amber Pek said the incident happened after an Uber car came to pick her up at the taxi stand along Victoria Street, near Bugis Junction. She had posted the video of the incident on Facebook on Friday (Nov 27), saying that the man involved was the driver of the Uber car she hired.

…In response to media queries, police have confirmed that reports were lodged and a 50-year-old man has been arrested. A 59-year-old old man is also currently assisting with investigations, they added.

…Certis CISCO also released a statement saying its contractual agreement with LTA ended in October 2015 and that the officer involved in the incident is not its employee.

An affray is legally defined as 2 or more people fighting in a public place and disturbing the peace, yet only the LTA officer is arrested while the Uber uncle is ‘assisting with investigations’. By his own admission, the latter retaliated to the first punch, but given the brutality suffered, teeth lost and all, is likely to be given a warning instead of being thrown in the same cell as his nemesis.

CISCO were quick to distance themselves from the culprit. A Sunday Times article (29 Nov 15) later revealed that the LTA officer was in fact from a company known as ‘Ramky Cleantech Services’. An unusual name for an organisation that provides enforcement ‘solutions’, sounding more like a provider of sanitation services.

Indeed, according to their website, Ramky caters to office needs by supplying cleaning aunties, among other things like pest control and washing windows and walls. On the enforcement services side, they supply vehicles, wheel clamping and ‘foot patrolling officers’. Which makes the average motorist wonder: If the ‘matas’ who issue summons and catch you when you park illegally are not from the actual TP, who the heck are they and where do they come from?

It started in 2010 when LTA announced that they would relieve the TP of some functions, including the administration of illegal parking and closing roads for repairs. The work was then outsourced to private companies. In response to letters, LTA assured the public that CERTIS CISCO had a comprehensive training programme to ensure that officers carry out their duties professionally. In fact, before LTA came into the scene, parking offence duties were already outsourced by the TP themselves to CISCO since 1999.

In 2013, Ramky won the tender for providing traffic wardens. You can view the details of the successful bid yourself on the LTA website.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.20.40 AM

Following the rulebooks is one thing, the manner in which one stamps authority, however, is another. Some drivers have complained that the real cops can be in fact more LENIENT than outsourced wardens when it comes to parking violations, the latter deemed to be inflexible and very ‘rigid’. One warden actually BOOKED A DAMN POLICE CAR in what was referred to as the ‘summons of the year’.

One possible reason for this overzealousness, as a ST forum writer suggested in 2006, was that ‘external companies are driven by profits which are invariably tied to the amount of fines collected’. In order to prove to LTA that you’re well worth the money, you probably need to set a certain summons quota as an indicator of your performance. As an individual employee, that translates to incentives and promotions. CISCO claimed that salaries are not linked to fines collected. I don’t know about the rest.

Sticklers to the rules aside, a more worrying concern is whether our wardens, without the necessary police combat training, would be able to handle aggressive drivers who would gladly engage you in an ‘affray’ if they don’t like your face, knowing you’re just a hired goon without a pistol or taser. One poor soul got noodles thrown in his face, to the rapturous applause of bystanders. If it had been a TP, the offender could land himself a few weeks in jail for assaulting a public officer.

It’s a thankless job, and I’m sure there are wardens who do exercise discretion and don’t kick fallen uncles in the ribcage. But one does wonder if scrappy fights can be avoided if the duty was carried out by the TP rather than employees of companies that also specialise in toilet cleaning. In the case of this LTA vs Uber scuffle, the shit just hit the fan.

WP’s Daniel Goh filing police report over poison pen letter

From ‘WP’s Daniel Goh refutes allegations of extramarital affair’, 28 Aug 2015, article in Today

Workers’ Party (WP) candidate Daniel Goh this morning said in a Facebook post that he has lodged a police report over the poison pen letter alleging that he had an affair with a former student.

…In a post on his Facebook page just before midnight (Aug 27), Associate Professor Goh, who is a sociologist at the National University of Singapore, said someone wrote a poison pen letter to the WP and the media claiming he had an affair with a former student whom he supervised for her thesis.

“I categorically refute the baseless allegations and I question the timing of the poison pen letter coming immediately after the candidate introduction,” wrote Assoc Prof Goh, who was introduced by the WP on Wednesday as a candidate for the coming polls.

One man who would be interested in this turn of events would be disgraced former WP candidate Yaw Shin Leong, whose downfall began when TR Emeritus exposed his affair based on accounts from ‘reliable informants’. The New Paper soon pounced, Yaw’s silence was taken as a sign of guilt, the PAP questioned the integrity of their council, and before you know it, the man tumbled out of politics altogether. It wasn’t long before scandal swung to the other side, with anonymous SMS tip-offs implicating PAP’s Michael Palmer for screwing around too. Unlike Yaw’s dithering, Palmer readily admitted to his indiscretions and quit the party in a manner that some might describe as ‘honourable’. The only reason why these vicious allegations weren’t labelled as ‘poison pen letters’ nor the media excoriated for ‘gutter journalism’, was that they turned out to be true. Or maybe because it’s, well, THE NEW PAPER.

There Will be Mud

Within days of Parliament dissolving, ‘netiquette’ met the same fate. Politicians are suddenly fodder for dirty sleuthing, and social media has become plague-ridden with one calculated smear campaign after another. NSP’s Steve Chia and Sebastian Teo were at the receiving end of the poison nib, with entire websites dedicating to besmirching their reputations. In the last GE, Vincent Wijeysingha crossed swords with Vivian Balakrishnan, the latter pointing to an online video and accusing the SDP of promoting a ‘gay agenda’. Both Steve and Vincent are as good as gone from politics, and it won’t be long before this poison shroud would start infecting other Opposition parties, with conspiracy theories floating around that these spreaders of falsehoods could either be PAP saboteurs/sympathisers, or even rival Opposition supporters, that instead of hurting Daniel Goh they actually boost his election chances. If WP play their cards right, we have a strong Opposition contender in our hands. Well, whatever doesn’t kill him.

Within a day of Goh lodging a police report, Law Minister Shanmugam did the same against a ‘seditious’ Facebook user accusing him of being an ‘Islamophobic bigot’ after his speech about segregation between Malay/Muslim and Chinese schools in Malaysia. It’s the kind of racism accusation Malaysian politicians would toss at LKY for his thoughts on Malaysia’s social quirks. So things have gotten ugly pretty quickly, and we’ve not even gotten to Nomination Day. You have to wonder if such retaliatory responses have been exaggerated because of this ‘smear frenzy’ that has gotten our candidates all antsy in their pants. Try to screw my election chances by defamation, and I’ll smack the law on you even harder. I figure politicians would turn a blind eye to trolls if polling wasn’t, well, just 2 damn weeks away.

So ‘negative campaigning’ and the revenge attacks associated with it, is the order of the day despite the Elections Department frowning upon it. In Goh’s case, the cowardliness of the attack and the mainstream media’s hyena scavenging somehow reversed his fortune into a positive one, instead of descending into ‘YawGate’.  It’s called ‘election fever’ for a reason; The system is delirious with a sickening contagion, where combatants are pitted not against actual rivals in a war of words or wits, but against anonymous hecklers who just want to see the world burn. In the past, writing poison pen letters that mar the reputation of police officers could land you 6 months in jail. If need be, the likes of “Max Chan” could be charged now under the Protection from Harassment Act, a charge that would actually make sense. Unlike this headscratcher.

So much shit online that threaten to condemn Singapore politics to a mudslinging Woodstock orgy and all our MDA is merely concerned with is ‘Pappy Washing Powder’. I wonder if that works on bullshit as well as tough stains.

UPDATE 29 Aug 15: K Shanmugam decided not to file a police report after meeting his accuser. 

901 people arrested for attempted suicide in 2014

From ‘More arrested for attempting suicide’, 18 July 2015, article by Tee Zhuo, ST

More people were arrested for attempting suicide last year, according to latest police figures as of June 8. Last year, 901 people were arrested for trying to kill themselves, compared with 862 in 2013.

The 4.5 per cent increase in arrests, however, may not necessarily be a cause for alarm. Experts said the rise could be due to better intervention by third parties, such as family, friends and the police. Under Section 309 of the Penal Code, those who attempt suicide can be punished with jail for up to a year, or with a fine, or both.

…The number of suicide deaths in 2013 was 422, down from 467 the year before. Statistics for last year have yet to be released.

…While suicide is illegal, those arrested are often referred to professionals. Some are let off with a stern warning, said experts. Statistics from the State Courts show only five cases filed, with at least one charge under Section 309 of the Penal Code, last year. This figure is also the lowest in a steady decline from 16 such cases in 2010.

Lawyer Peter Ong of Templars Law believes the suicide law should be abolished as it does not serve as a deterrent. “Knowing they may be arrested if their attempt fails may push them to complete it,” said Mr Ong.

Like section 377A, the suicide law is an archaic one descended from British colonial rule. According to psychiatrist Chong Siow Ann in an ST article last year, this has roots in Christian theology, whereby St Augustine decreed that killing yourself was a ‘mortal sin’ equivalent to killing God since He made Man in His image. In a 2007 editorial, Dr Chong cites the astonishing statistic that more Singaporeans die committing suicide than from road traffic accidents every year. The rest fail miserably, and either carry on with their unhappy lives with the crutch of antidepressants, counselling, religion, or get arrested if they’re unlucky, a rare few getting charged and put on probation only after 10 unsuccessful attempts.

Which begs the question of what exactly is an ‘attempted suicide’, and how the police differentiates this  from one that is merely attention-seeking behaviour with no real intention to die. A man jumping in front of an MRT train is a clear indication, though he failed so horribly in the attempt that he only complained of ‘back pain’ after falling onto the tracks. Earlier this year, another man was arrested for sitting on a ledge and ‘dangling his legs’. It wasn’t reported if he was threatening to jump or was just there for the view.

Quarrelling couples threaten each other all the time. Antics such as raising one leg over the bedroom window, or holding the kitchen knife against one’s abdomen in the middle of a shouting match may seem more dangerous than someone perching on a ledge all by himself, but these people don’t get sent to the police station. Neither do we arrest those who pop 20 tablets of Panadol thinking it would send them into a blissful eternal sleep when all it does is send them to the hospital, if anything happens at all. One particular patient survived after swallowing 120 tablets.

A published paper explained that 3 conditions needed to be fulfilled before the state presses charges: 1) Repeated attempts 2)Wasted resources 3) When other offences are committed in the process, like injuring another person. In 2006, a man was charged based on the last criteria after falling on and breaking a girl’s leg in his misguided attempt. Both survived, partly because he jumped from the THIRD STOREY of his block.

The suicide law itself may very well be a double-edged sword, on one hand deterring those with half-hearted intent from tempting fate and allowing time for intervention, while pushing others determined enough to complete it.  Since the law is not applied most of the time, it’s probably ineffective in weeding out people who just want to mutilate themselves for sympathy and may not even be diagnosed with depression in the first place, like teens cutting their wrists and uploading their battle scars on Facebook, probably driven by the same reasons behind children their age actually taking their own lives.

Our government may even be AFRAID of repealing it in case it leads to an actual INCREASE in suicide attempts and deaths. So until there are figures that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that decriminalisation works, I doubt they’ll pull the plug on this piece of legislation.

Policeman shot in Khoo Teck Puat hospital

From ‘Shooting case at hospital:Man could face death penalty’, 22 June 2015, Today

The police have classified Saturday’s incident at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where a police officer was shot, as an unlawful discharge of firearms under the Arms Offences Act, an offence that carries the death penalty. The suspect, a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was arrested for motor vehicle theft on Friday, will be hauled to court this afternoon on this holding charge

…The suspect, who was under remand for further investigations into his alleged motor vehicle theft, had complained of chest pains on Saturday and was escorted by police officers to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to seek medical attention.

At about 7.05pm, while inside one of the hospital’s examination rooms, which are not accessible to the public, the suspect attempted to escape and struggled with one of the officers. TODAY understands that the suspect had attacked the 31-year-old officer while his colleague stepped out of the room. The suspect is believed to have taken hold of the officer’s baton and used it to beat the latter.

He then snatched the officer’s revolver and discharged three rounds, before he was subdued and the situation was brought under control. The accused sustained superficial injuries.

The death penalty for using a gun on another person, even with just the intention to cause hurt,  came into force in 1974, signed off by then President Benjamin Sheares. ‘Firearms’ also includes air pistols, air guns and even flamethrowers, according to the Arms Offences Act. In fact, you don’t even need to aim your weapon at a living thing to get convicted with a possible death sentence. The law states:

“…any person who uses or attempts to use any arm shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have used or attempted to use the arm with the intention to cause physical injury to any person or property.”

The lesson here then, is unless you’re a soldier or a cop, hands off anything that fires pellets, missiles or bullets. Even threatening people with a toy gun, or what the law describes as an ‘imitation arm’, can land you 10 years in jail and 3 strokes of the rotan. What’s not clear is whether you’ll still get death if your gun is not loaded and you’re using it just to scare your target like an imitation arm. What will happen to you if you shot people in the knee with a bow and arrow, or a catapult at close range for that matter? Or what if you managed to disarm a robber of his pistol and was forced to fire it near his feet to scare him away? As Mr Bean taught us, you could create havoc just using your bare hand as an ‘imitation arm’.

The first death sentence for such a crime was doled out to Sha Bakar Dawood in 1976, who wounded 3 people in a brothel and fired at the police. A year earlier, an accomplice to an armed robbery was sent to the gallows as well, despite him voluntarily surrendering to the police. For decades our strict gun control laws kept us safe from gang robberies and mass slaughters, that is until 2005 when Chestnut Drive Secondary School was mysteriously attacked by a suspected sniper with an air-gun. Not sure if the culprit was ever caught, though thankfully no one was hurt during the onslaught.

It’s a terrible idea to try to snatch a policeman’s revolver, not only because you risk being sent to the hangman’s, but you may get shot or even killed before your execution in the ensuing struggle. In the mid 80’s, a motorcycle thief was shot in the abdomen in failed attempt. 2 men died within the span of 20 days in 1984 while playing tug-of-war with armed police. In 1985, a 19 year old was hit in the chest and died after trying to grab a PC’s revolver. In his defence, PC Tay Kok Thong had just wanted to fire a shot to ‘scare him away’. In the same year, an escaping burglar was fatally shot in the neck.  In the KTPH case, the policeman had it worse off, but would the accused still get the death penalty even if he was shot in the face at the same time that the cop got his hand blown off, and survived?

I trust that our police are drilled in dealing with gun-snatch situations without the trigger being pulled and accidentally killing someone. Still, if you’re a revolver thief, you may try sneaking up on a detective while he’s fooling around with his girl in a park, or grab his bag while he’s swimming, instead of trying to yank it out of his holster. For the moment, there is no punishable-by-death law against the ‘unlawful wielding of a knife or equivalent sharp object’, even though you can just as well kill someone at close range with a stabbing weapon. Such a law, however, could probably put an end to secret society gangfights and domestic kitchen disputes once and for all.

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