Mr Yeoh Lam Keong in his Facebook posting of 5 Jun 2017 asserted that there is “inadequate community policing in Singapore”, and that “alienation from the police” was a “big reason” for the cause and “poor handling” of the Little India riot in 2013. Mr Yeoh’s sweeping statement is not only inaccurate, it shows a clear lack of understanding of what happened during the Little India riot and an ignorance of our community policing efforts.
Firstly, the Committee of Inquiry (COI) had found the primary cause of the riot to be a fatal road traffic accident, and that a confluence of other factors, such as consumption of alcohol and a desire for “street justice” by the rioters, had escalated the violence. Alcohol, in particular, was found by the COI to be a “major contributory factor” in the riot, contrary to what Mr Yeoh had deemed as a “convenient scapegoat”.
Secondly, despite our lean force structure, community-based policing has always been a key strategy in our efforts to keep Singapore safe and secure. The Police have been regularly reviewing our policing model to meet changes in the community’s safety and security needs. We launched the current Community Policing System (COPS) in May 2012 to bring Police officers closer to the community and strengthen Police presence on the ground. The daily engagement and house visits by our officers in the neighbourhood have resulted in strong networks with community stakeholders to fight crime. Since Apr 2015, COPS has been adopted by all Neighbourhood Police Centres and become an integral part of our policing strategy.
In September 2016, amidst increasing security threats, the Government also launched the SGSecure movement as a community response to counter terrorism. Our frontline officers engage the community to spread the SGSecure message, encourage them to report suspicious activity, and train and equip residents with life-saving skills. Home Team officers and our partners have visited more than 110,000 households in this regard. The SGSecure app, where reports of suspicious activity can be reported to the Police, is also installed in around 550,000 mobile devices. SGSecure has also been extended to schools and workplaces.
Singapore is one of the safest cities in the world. There is a high level of trust and confidence amongst Singaporeans in our Police force. In a 2016 public perception survey, 92% of respondents rated general safety and security in Singapore as “good” or “very good”, and 90% are confident the Police are well-prepared to tackle any “major law and order incident”. These statistics reflect the hard work we have put into engaging the community and keeping Singapore safe and secure.
It is regrettable that Mr Yeoh did not check his facts before commenting on areas he has little knowledge of. His distorted points on the Little India Riot and Community Policing will mislead others who don't know the facts. It will be helpful if people like Mr Yeoh actually come forward and volunteer in community policing. He will then get a better understanding of what the Police does.