Police's manpower shortage, 'How is that my problem?' – Expat assault victims tell all
~by: Jewel Philemon~
“What are the extra ingredients that require expedited justice? It's not rocket science.” – Mr Paul Louis Liew Kai Ming on the inefficacious police force and legal system.”
Inefficient, Ineffective, Slow Police Force and Legal System?
Mr Liew suffered the worst injuries with a broken nose and a deep gash on his forehead. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and attends monthly therapy sessions with a psychiatrist. “Whenever I look into the mirror, the scar is there. It’s a constant reminder”, he expresses, “I also have to make sure I don’t hurt anyone through my actions. I have to be anal about myself in controlling my emotions.”
Being attacked from behind has also had its own ramifications for Mr Liew. He says that he cannot bring himself to enter crowded elevators and that if he has to enter one, he turns around and makes sure the door faces his back, “I need to physically place my back on a wall. I cannot have people standing behind me.”
As an undergraduate of an Australian university, Mr Liew also talks about the difficulties of adapting to a new environment, especially amongst Caucasians. “I have to face new people. I have to face Caucasians. I cannot have any prejudices because of this”, he says openly.
However, both Mr Liew and Mr Wong attest that these repercussions are minor compared to the inefficient and ineffective manner the police force and legal system have handled the case.
Mr Wong reveals that despite making three phone calls to the police throughout the duration of the attack, the cops only arrived after the ambulance, about an hour later. Mr Liew, who was almost unconscious due to his head wounds, adds that he only remembers opening his eyes once and seeing the ambulance take a wrong turn.
Mr Wong further mentioned that the investigating officer (IO) acted insensitively and more importantly, unprofessionally. He said that the IO seemed quite unconcerned in his investigations and did not put in enough effort in taking the statements of bystanders who were still in the vicinity.
It was almost a week before Mr Wong and company heard from the IO again and when they finally did speak to the officer, it was only to be told that there were no conclusive leads.
A frustrated Mr Wong took it upon himself to catch the unprovoked assailants. He managed to uncover their identities after an amateur investigation spanning two hours. “They were obviously coming from a charity event! They were wearing suits!” exclaims Mr Wong, “I found pictures and names within two hours. I don’t know how an investigating officer can take a week to do something and still not come up with answers especially when that is their job.”
The investigation officer’s reaction was one of casual nonchalance. According to Mr Wong, the IO claimed that the police force is short of manpower and that they handle an average of forty cases a month. “How is this my problem!”, Mr Wong asks.
Mr Wong and company have been playing a waiting game since then. Frustrated at the lack of swift action, they decided to inform the people via the press.
“Our disappointment has stemmed from the accident site itself”, Mr Liew interjects, “I could have died that night, can I be blamed for being upset?” Mr Liew asks. The assessment that the police force use their own prerogative to prioritise cases only adds salt to the wound.
“We have been conscientious about not hindering proceedings. We only want justice to be served. But it has only been disappointments upon disappointments upon disappointments”, laments Mr Liew.
Mr Liew recounted that it was months before their statements were submitted to court and that even that was only done after much coaxing. “We trust the authorities to do their job. But nothing is being done! What else do we need to do.”
The lack of accountability and transparency is another sore point for the victims. They were apparently told that the case is being handled by the IO, then the AG, and then by the ministry of foreign affairs. “I am still chasing after them while in Australia”, Mr Liew confirms, “I don’t have any benefits from this. I don’t want a story. All I want is accountability.”
It took fifteen months for the case to get to the courts. Fifteen months filled with headaches and roadblocks and justice has still not been served. “You have facts! What is holding you back?”, Mr Liew questions, “I don’t want to speculate, but why is it stagnating?”
“It has been a year and three months and you know everything about the case- A to Z. So what is happening? What are the extra ingredients that require expedited justice? It is not rocket science.”, he opines.
Mr Springall sped away again in December 2011, unbeknownst to the victims of his violent crime. Perhaps to join his co-assailant Mr Robert Stephen Dahlberg, in greener pastures safe from the long arm of Singaporean law enforcement.
These pictures were submitted to the police by the victims to assist the police in their investigations:
"We chose not to keep quiet for the sake of the victim of Ionescu, who is already dead," assault victim Lawrence Wong. Watch this space for Part 3.