Saturday, August 28, 2010

An Officer And A Gentleman

Mr Abdillan Zamzuri served his national service obligation as a policeman (police NSman). He learnt enough during his training to appreciate that the law was abused when Lianhe Wanbao photographer Shafie Goh was handcuffed for snapping pictures of the Bukit Timah flood. "As someone who still reports for reservist duty as a police officer, I am well aware of the Penal Code and statutes that govern and dictate what a police officer can and cannot do," he wrote on his blog about the incident that drew castigations of all sorts against the thuggish tactics of a draconian police force. If Hitler were alive, he would certainly rant against his Brown Shirts for being wimps by comparison.

One would have thought Enche Abdillah deserved praise for presenting a more positive image of the protectors of the law. Instead, the careerist elements of the police force dragged him into the Pasir Ris Neighbourhood Police Centre and grilled him for an hour. Officially, he was told he was being investigated for the offence of "prejudice to the conduct of good order and discipline." That has to be the ultimate perversion of common sense. The cop with the handcuff fetish was a model of "good order and discipline", and identifying rogue behaviour and abuse of the public trust is an offence? No wonder no officers in the Whitley Road Detention Center pointed out that there were no bars in the toilet window that enabled Mas Selamat to take flight.

We are told that officers from uniformed groups are bound by a code of conduct that forbids them from detailing information about operations and procedures, among other things. In other words , see no evil, hear no evil, and definitely blog no evil. Commandos under training can die in simulated drownings, but no officer is supposed to report it. Rostered officer fails to turn up for guard duty, but even the son of the Prime Minister is not supposed to blow the whistle on the miscreant. What other dirty linen is secreted within the barracks of the uniformed groups?

Goh Chok Tong was quoted by the Straits Times, Apr 6, 2002, as saying, "If you sing Jailhouse Rock with your electric guitar when others are playing Beethoven, you are out of order. The whip must be used on you." Which is some what different from what he said earlier on 3 Nov, 2001, "“I would want to form an alternative policies group in Parliament, comprising 20 PAP MPs. These 20 PAP MPs will be free to vote in accordance with what they think of a particular policy. In other words, the whip for them will be lifted." Police officers, like other civil servants, know what is the political flavour of the day.

Our sympathies go out to the career sycophants who are not allowed "speak in the capacity of a _____ (insert appropriate job description here)". They may never leave home without their American Express Card, but their thinking brains, they likely leave behind in the Victoria's Secret underwear drawer.


  1. "..conduct to the prejudicee of good order and discipline" is the good old catch all rule in the PGO (and the SAFA) used to throw at somebody out of favour and basically has not done any real wrong. That is, its a rule for any superior to find fault with the victim when there is NOTHING else in the rule book the former can lay his hands on!

  2. I honestly think that our SPF may have committed 2 error of judgements :-

    Firstly if the location of the site is really unsafe for anyone, they should have demarcated the limits of the danger zone and make it out of bounds to access from anybody including the police officers themselves. Was this done ?

    It just doesn't make sense to simply handcuff the endangered photographer away for his own safety and leave the danger zone wide open and accessible to anyone else.

    Maybe there was no danger zone in the first place ? Maybe the reasons given for the handcuffs that it was for the photographer's personal safety was an excuse or lie afterall.

    Secondly we all know that criticism feedback is the best tool for anyone or any organisation to improve oneself. So how can it be an offence if one's intention is to highlight what is perceived to be wrong so that further improvements.

    One of the first lessons learnt in any saftey course is to be able to speak up even before something happens, definitely not a "see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil' attitude.

    Unless of course if our SPF is only concerned with its public image of discipline and order to please the establishment that all is well and under control and hopefully no Minister will put obstacles to their promotion prospects ?

  3. Singaporeans are not keen in joining the Uniform(Disciplinary) Forces nowadays. Modern generations are mostly put off by the rigidity and often unreasonable Rules and Regulations, read disciplines, of the Forces.

    It's nothing new actually, most parents in many ancient cultures did not want their offsprings to join the army and the constabulary. The Chinese has even a Saying that 'good metals are not to be made into nails' and good men do not join the military Hao tie bu ta ting, hao nan bu tang ping.

    The World must have witnessed countless bullyings and blind obediences repeating ad nauseum throughout history. Don't we ourselves got to see repeatedly how armies were suppressing/oppressing(Marshal Law) and killing their own countrymen instead of defending their countries ? Anyone knows for sure that it will not happen in SIN ? Were we not warned that the Army maybe activated should there be a 'freak' election result ?


  4. Your writing style is edgy and humorous. I like it.

    Im curious. Are you a lady? You sound like someone who has lived overseas.

  5. I thank you for your entry and the support towards civic mindedness, social responsibility and moral courage.

    I am sure there are more incidents of abuse of power/ authority which has gone unreported and I hope that such individuals will step forward to tell their story.

    It is a duty to serve the country, to protect life and property and to be courteous in dealings with fellow humankind.