Singapore has world’s most enthusiastic police force

Posted on 01 July 2011

Sure, its citizens love the police for keeping the country safe. But some of their actions come across as… bizarre.

Photo: DAVE CONNER / Creative Commons

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Police Force (SPF),  responsible for making Singapore a low-crime country (to the extent that it has to remind citizens that crime still happens in the little island), must be rubbing their hands in glee.

Lately, they’ve received press coverage on the scale of a publicists’s wet dream.

First, this Times of India report said that Google has ranked Singapore number one in the world per capita in terms of demanding that the Internet giant release certain information on individuals deemed criminal.

The question is: If Singapore is so crime-free, how come there are so many requests?

But nevermind. Google has said that they will comply as long as the authorities are following the rule of law in demanding information. Sounds reasonable? Wait till you hear this: Because Singapore has such a buffet spread of highly subjective and interpretive laws that restrict freedom of speech, any word perceived as mildly seditious could result in a hefty jail term and fine.

Which makes me wonder: How many of these people the police were checking up on really “criminals”. Or were they activists, politicans, and NGO workers?

Fortunately for most Singaporeans, their bark is often worse than their bite. But not if you’re a parking offender.

It’s stupid to skip an appointment in court just because you don’t want to pay your parking fines, sure. But, according to this report, the SPF decided to send out “30 police officers, several sniffer dogs, five police cars and four red Special Operations Command riot vehicles” to hunt the guy down.

Either the policemen must be really bored, or they know more than they’re letting on. Suicide bomber, maybe?

That’s not all.

In 2009, when a bunch of graffiti artists decided to spray some art on Singapore’s few LEGAL graffiti walls for the Palestinian cause, the authorities forbade them. Plain-clothed policemen even stationed themselves near the walls to ensure the rascals obey the government.

And two years before that, this local blogger documented that police took down information and videotaped a protest happening right in the heart of Orchard Road — involving Ultraman figurines.

Ludicrous as it sounds, Singapore is no China. But as much as I like a safe city, I sure am not appreciative of them policemen (and women) poking up the asses of upright citizens.

Go figure.

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- who has written 2685 posts on New Nation.

Wang Pei can be considered a new citizen of Singapore. She has been here all her life, just that her environment's changed beyond recognition.

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  • Terence

    I am not sure of the other two examples mentioned in the article, but in the case where the individual escaped while being arrested by AETOS officers (i.e. Auxillary Police Officers, rather than SPF officers), there is a need to ensure the individual was placed back into police custody.

    Therefore, the police has the responsibility to deploy resources to ensure that the indiviual is being found and placed back into police custody in the shortest time. As to whether sending the Special Operations Command (SOC) officers and vehicles may be an overkill. it is best left for the police to make the operational assessment in such situations.

    Back to the tite of this article of SPF being the most enthusiastic police force, the Times of India report did not actually cite the number of requests made by SPF. If we were to look at Google’s actual report, the figure is 224 (Jan – Dec 2010), the figure is probably on the lower end of the spectrum.

    http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/governmentrequests/userdata/

    Actually, if we drill down further, Singapore’s figure in terms of per capita is at 44.5 requests per million as compared UK (40.3) and Australia (26) in CY 2010.

    I thought your readers should have a clearer picture when you quoted the report in the article and make their own conclusions.

    Thanks

  • Terence Lee

    hey there, yes i agree that including all these information would have made the article more balanced. but thanks for pointing these facts out… we also count on readers like you to highlight things we miss out.