The Special Operations Command

I live in Little India, Singapore. And if you haven’t been living under a rock, you would’ve probably heard about the riot that happened last night (Sunday, 8 Dec) in the Little India area around 10pm lasting about 3 hours.

As it would happen, my husband, his cousin and I passed the junction where the riot was just about to erupt at approximately 9.30pm. We were wondering what the commotion was about when we drove by and saw the police patrol cars. This incident has sparked off many debates ranging from the foreign worker quota, alcohol control issues to the safety and security of Singaporeans. I only took away one lesson from last night’s riot: emergency preparedness. We are safe. And, we should thank the troopers from the Special Operations Command and the rest of the Singapore Police Force.

Firstly, they responded to the call of duty. Secondly, they ran into a chaotic situation when many will usually be running out of it, literally into the line of fire. Thirdly, the 400 rioters were dispersed and order restored in one hour. 5 police vehicles, 1 ambulance and several other private vehicles were damage. 10 officers were also injured. Here are some pictures from last night taken from the TODAY newspaper.

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Police car overturned

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Special Operations Command Troopers in the thick of the action

Throughout all this time, regular news updates and eye witness accounts (photos and videos) were being shared on various social media platforms. I am certain, many Singaporeans (both local and overseas) kept their eyes peeled for news on this. Singapore is known for its safety and squeaky clean image. Things like this just don’t happen. BUT, when they do (as they did last night), we were prepared. And I am grateful that I can rely on these operationally-ready men and women who respond to the call of duty.

I don’t know about you but I am especially proud of those troopers who demonstrated not only their specialist training but also their discernment and restraint! No shots were fired despite the chaos. The mob was dispersed with nary a shot or tear gas fired.

To the uninitiated, the Special Operations Command is the Police Tactical Unit (PTU), the main anti-rioting and disaster-management unit of the police force, these regular forces are called upon in any contingency and serious case of public disorder. It has its history as Singapore’s Reserve Unit, dating back to 1952, when an anti-riot squad of 60 police officers were formed in the wake of the Maria Hertogh riots, which broke out in 1952 and demonstrated the incapability of existing measures in containing serious cases of public disorder. The Police Task Force, predecessor of what is now the Police Tactical Unit was hence created. In response to the ever-increasingly complicated, and multi-faceted public safety and security requirements in Singapore, the Special Operations Command has grown in strength and operational capabilities. Today, it is a formidable and daunting force to be reckoned with. Last night, was clearly just a small sample of their many capabilities and specialist training.

I believe, these troopers don’t ask to be called heroes. They just want to appreciated for the work that they do. I know because I married a trooper.

This morning, my entire Facebook feed was flooded with comments from keyboard warriors whose insensitive comments, ridiculous remarks and unsound arguments made me sad. I also found these comments very disturbing. Are we really such an ungrateful bunch? I am sick of reading these self-righteous judgements and smart-aleck comments from keyboard warriors who think the world of their opinions. Just shove it. We didn’t see you running into the riot to disperse the crowd. We didn’t see you do anything but post videos and photos which were all taken from a safe distance. And then came the comments…

Ever ask why these men and women do it? I know it’s definitely not for the money or the glory. Here’s another question: would you let your loved one run into a dangerous situation?

It is time Singaporeans look into the recesses of their hearts and ask themselves what they would’ve and could’ve contributed to last night’s riots or any emergency situation for that matter. I think for starters, we can start by appreciating the efforts of those men and women who risked their lives for the safety of the majority. This brings to mind this quote:

“We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.” ― Konstantin Josef Jireček

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150 thoughts on “The Special Operations Command

  1. Pingback: Thank You | anyhowonly

  2. Pingback: VIDEOS: Singapore’s First Riot in 40 Years | Freedom, Justice, Equality News

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  5. I’m sorry but I agree with “sg”, no one is belittling the job of a reinforcer and i’m grateful for them. However the trooper there could have done abit more before the entire mob effect took over, 1 person start to argue slowly become a group bashing and it became a battle cry for riots and burning down POLICE vehicles. All these while there are enforcer there, what were they doing? It all started with an unfortunate accident which the police could have handle it and contain it as an accident, disperse the crowd n move on. But as numerous videos n pic have shown us in the beginning the enforcer were just standing there waiting for orders.

  6. that is assuming the troopers reached the scene before the mob formed. if i’m not wrong, the formation of the mob was the trigger for the activation of the troopers, no?

    sometimes logic eludes certain people.

    it is easy to do finger pointing, let us remember what the PO on the ground are trained and equipped for. from my limited understanding, they were not equipped to deal with civil unrest. i guess a lot of you out there likes to cry rape and expect shots to be fired, but really, who knows how the event might have escalated if the responders did not keep their cool and reacted harshly to the crowd?

    it is easy to “act expert”, and imagine that the frontline officers, enforcers or soldiers, use their high tech toys and bang their way through. but seriously, what is difficult is to exercise situation appreciation and judgement. otherwise, we need only killing machines.
    what is also difficult, is to be cannon fodder and deal with emergencies without any prior preparations.

  7. i think the main issue is who is the instigator and how would the officers know then?

    most of times, people are blind followers, emotionally charged by the instigators while these masterminds may hide behind the scene

    Just look at the chaos around the world. :Look at history if guns and bullets do really solve any problem (maybe yes but momentary).

    Imagine the implication if deaths occurs – the reactions from the foreign workers (about 1/3 of our population) and the backlash in Sri Lanka and Indian.

    Let’s trust and have faith that our frontline officers and their officers that done their best to contain the situation and have exerices thier professional judgement. And let the COI investigate and reveal more.

  8. You have to understand that sometimes, on the ground, the situation is a lot different. Looking at what had happened after it did is one thing; experiencing it is another story altogether.

    Please also realize that the people on the ground might be young and experienced too. What they might have done would have blown the matter out of proportion. It would’ve been better to receive sound orders first before reacting.

    I hope that you understand also that there is a first for everything; the last Singapore experienced riots were way before our time. I am proud that they were still up to the task and they had stood in harm’s way for the rest of us to ensure we are safe. Can we ask dor more? Can we also do so if needed? We all have families of our own. It would not have been easy for them too.

  9. I have all along said that our Police are slackening. In peaceful time the Police presence is almost absent. Are they not suppose to look after their Police cars? They just stand by and watch their cars overturned without firing a shot of warning. Not firing a shot is commendable? It is time for Singapore to wake up indeed.

  10. kudos to the SOC and others there last night. but the only disappointment was that most of us were mislead by information.

    even my foreign friends are asking me “thought the last anti-rioting exercise, ur government staff said SOC will arrive within minutes, do tis, do tat? but how come last night SOC arrive abt 2hrs later? if 30-45mins still understandable cos need time to arm and travel. but 2hrs? the info quite misleading leh…”

  11. Truly Duncan, unless we are trained in their field otherwise we will not know exactly how things going to turn out to be . They have their protocol & procedure. Air firing can only happen in dramas anytime, anywhere but not in reality.

  12. I just say this, everything if have information before hand, you can handle it with in timing given,

    How I put it this way, example IF you boss needed something urgently in the wee hours can you also response in double quick time to say within minutes to arrive. Diff matter but same problem face.

    Its peace time, its a weekend, don’t you think they will need time to react, they maybe home spending time with family, If you are serving NS, its the same with recall. did everything end early no it don’t. there will always be delay. We are not on ground to know why the response came late. It can have many factor to it. came be jam due to traffic in that area.

    Everything have a whole story, think about it not one side but two side. to know what is really happening. Cheers

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