It started out as a road traffic accident.
How then did the Little India incident erupt into a full-blown riot, with an estimated more than 400 protestors taking to the street?
Besides blaming drunkenness and Indians (or simply drunk Indians) for the fracas, the Singapore Police Force must also shoulder part of the blame.
(1) Guts & Glory? Nah…
Police officers were revealed to have watched as a small group of rioters attacked police vehicles, and set them on fire.
You can see a sparse group of rioters forming in this eyewitness video, before attacking police cars.
A little while later in the video, it’s revealed that at least 4 police officers watched passively as two police cars were overturned.
(skip to 4:00 mins)
It’s ok for firemen not to interfere with the actions of rioters, or even flee the scene – they’re not tasked with law enforcement.
But, how embarrassing is this for the police officers?
They couldn’t even protect their own property. How can we trust them to defend ours?
Let’s not even delve into alleged eyewitness accounts that some policemen hid from rioters in ambulances.
They’re unconfirmed, but if they were true, it would be a big shame.
(2) Complete Control? Nah…
Police officers failed to disperse the small crowd that gathered at the start.
A crowd had surrounded the bus when the first patrol car arrived.
Still this hadn’t snowballed into the estimated “400-strong” group of protestors, as indicated by Singapore’s mainstream media.
You can see that, from this eyewitness video.
(3) Fast Response? Nah…
Why did the Special Operations Command only reach around an hour after the first police officers arrived at scene?
This supposedly elite troop is trained to deal with such crises. We can’t even rely on them to keep time.
A Gurkha contingent was even deployed together with the Special Ops troops.
Were they activated because even the Singapore Police Force knew better than to trust their supposedly elite riot squad?
(3) In Sum…
There’s no doubt that some of the police officers at scene performed valiantly, and lived up to the lofty police pledge of exercising their duty “without fear of favour”.
But this has been muddied by what appears to be the lack of any decisive action by most of those handling the incident.
The question for the Singapore Police Force is, was it a matter of “non-escalation”, or simply “inaction”?
The higher-ups might be patting themselves on the back, but this situation is starting to look like the latter.
And that’s just shameful.