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.
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