The government announced yesterday (15 Oct) that with effect from 6 January next year, Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee will be assigned to the national water agency PUB as its chief executive. He will concurrently hold the position of Deputy Secretary (Special Duties) in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.
DPM Teo Chee Hean, the Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, praised Mr Ng for his “dedication and commitment to keeping Singapore safe and secure in his 29 years with the Singapore Police Force”.
“During his tour of duty as Commissioner of Police, he has made significant improvements to reduce crime and bring unlicensed money lending under control. He has also introduced various initiatives to increase the effectiveness of the force and to provide our Officers with more capabilities to carry out their duties, such as in Community Policing and the deployment of police cameras in our HDB estates to fight crime,” Mr Teo said.
PUB’s top position was vacated after its chief executive Chew Men Leong went over to the Land Transport Authority to be its chief executive earlier this month.
Mr Ng became the Commissioner of Police in 2010 and was Director of the Singapore Prisons Service from 2007 to 2009.
The current Deputy Commissioner and Director of the CID, Hoong Wee Teck, will succeed Mr Ng as the new Police Commissioner.
Mr Ng released a statement that when he became a police officer 29 years ago, it was simply to get a scholarship to study at Oxford University.
“It was never my youthful ambition to become a cop. But I turned out to be a fairly decent policeman and am tremendously privileged and honoured to have been the police commissioner these past five years,” he said.
“My only motivation for coming to work every morning is the grave responsibility that I have for the 12,000 or so hardworking policemen and women in the SPF, and our collective mission for safeguarding public safety in Singapore. Our men and women in blue are a real treasure. Their daily toil often goes unappreciated, but is the stuff that produces the almost miraculous safety-from-crime that we enjoy every day. I only hope that my leadership has been worthy of their hard work and sacrifice.”
Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee reveals SPF is shorthanded
During the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Little India riot in March 2014, Mr Ng revealed that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is shorthanded. He told the COI that he wanted to recruit 1,000 more officers for SPF.
The police chief pleaded that the extra manpower would let him raise additional tactical troops and increase the number of officers patrolling the streets. It would also allow the police to train its front-line officers better.
At the COI, Mr Ng disclosed that his officers work a 4-shift system lasting 12 hours each, leaving them with very little time for training of any sort. This partly explains why the police could not adequately deal with the riot at Little India.
“If we were a football team, we would be a team that spends most of our time playing matches and very little time training,” he said. “And in my view, that is quite incredible and not a desirable situation… I think we have to rethink the system and we have to certainly get more resources if we want to do that.”
A key reason for the manpower crunch in the force is the number of police officers has not kept pace with Singapore’s population growth over the years, he added during the COI. In 1994, there were 222 officers for every 100,000 residents. Today there are 163:
Over the same period, Singapore’s population grew almost 60%, from 3.4 million in 1994 to 5.4 million last year:
Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee “worries more for Geylang”
Mr Ng also told the COI that he “worries more for Geylang” than Little India.
“Today, despite the riot in Little India, I worry more for Geylang,” he said. “If Singaporeans are irked by the littering, the noise and the jaywalking in Little India, they’ll certainly and quickly sense that there exists a hint of lawlessness in Geylang.”
He said that current efforts to maintain law and order in Geylang and Little India have “already stretched police resources to near breaking point”.
Looking at the graphs above, it appears that the government is certainly answerable for not planning ahead Singapore’s infrastructure support while increasing the population.
It is not just police officers but other infrastructure as well like transport, housing, hospital beds etc, which are sorely lacking in view of the explosive population growth especially after 2006.
It is not known if Mr Ng’s frank testimony at the Little India Riot COI earlier this year has precipitated his reassignment to “jaga” water.
What to you think?