In a report by TODAY and Channel NewsAsia dated Thursday (28 September), it is reported that Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam vowed to take action against physical and verbal attacks on Home Team uniformed officers.
He stated that there is a 65 per cent increase in physical and verbal attacks against officers from 2014 to 2016.
He stated that from their perspective, there is zero tolerance for this.
"It is "not easy" for officers to deal with people who are violent," Mr Shanmugam said.
He then noted that officers try to use reasonable force when arresting and restraining people, saying, "We do not want to cause unnecessary or excessive hurt. We also do not want any kind of image, caught on video, that can do harm to our own force, and morale as well."
Speaking at an awards ceremony at the Home Team Academy, Mr Shanmugam said the Home Affairs Ministry (MHA) has started working with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to press for “deterrent sentences, harsher sentences” for those who obstruct the work of public servants.
He told the media that such a collaboration has helped bump up the jail sentence of some people.
Jeffrey Yeo Ek Boon, who had slapped a police officer, has got his jail sentence increased from one to 10 weeks. While, Jason Peter Darragh, who had assaulted policemen at Changi Airport, has got his jail sentence increased from six-and-a-half months to more than eight months.
He then noted that if that approach does not work, the government will look at the legal framework.
However, many readers were cynical towards his statement and stressed that to their knowledge, many officers had abused their power, questioning if he can first educate the policemen on how to speak to the public.
Choo Jimmy wrote, "There are two sides to the stories in every unpleasant incident. I appreciate the services by the police and am really against the abuse against them carried out by unruly person or persons. However, I had came across incidents whereby overzealous police officers (especially auxiliary police personnel) abusing alleged suspects with much physical force that was uncalled for."
Colin Phua wrote, "What about when police officers verbally shout at people? Police officers can shout at civilians when civilians cannot shout at police officers? Or fear of be handcuffed or shot?
I have seen cases where police acted like gangsters and shouted at people without any provocation from the people who were trying to reason with the officers.. The abuse of power is prevalent because police officers feel they are under the immunity by the law to do anything and will not be sued.
Even in Philippines, the police officers knew about the immunity and shot civilians who refused to give money to police. Then police framed the victims by putting drugs and knives on their dead hands ! Claiming that the victims initiated violence!"
Lynette Enoch wrote, "Police officer verbally abuse public can lah!?"
Richard Yen Wei wrote, "Unfair for Minister Shanmugam to comment like this. Most of the time, admittedly, citizens are at fault for attacking public, government and civil servants. But some are being provoked and mishandled for reasons to be investigated. Please, help look into the mitigating circumstances of each case to justify action."
Mohd Afzal Mohd Sidik wrote, "The police are not perfect either it could be the way they talk that instigate people to react that way. Hello sir, I think all this can be prevented if your government servant can be more polite base on case by case basis. At times I wonder too I've seen the government servants attitude towards the public just because they are wearing that uniform. Please ask educate your people to talk in a very very professional way so people won't be instigated and give respect."
Ricki Martini wrote, "Mr. Shammugam. I do agree absolutely that due respect must be accorded without any resort to violent behaviour of any kind against our Home Team. However, it is also incumbent upon the police personnel whether alone or in a group to exhibit that self-confidence and authority that commands respect from all. Why do we read and hear of snide remarks about the tendency of our police personnel seeming appearing in a large group just to handle simple cases e.g. mental cases. I have witnessed and observed the demeanour and actions of especially young policemen that reflects little if any, leadership and initiative. Often times we see a pc calling up reinforcement and for advice. Soon another group led by a Nco (usually Sgt) joins in. It is imperative that the quality and public image of our policemen be improved, not necessarily enhanced only through media channels only! Our policemen must exude that kind of confidence that win public confidence in them!"
Teh Hong Low wrote, "Singapore seems to have a new serious problem all of a sudden. Are the citizens turning abusive and violent overnight? Why? Didn't Singaporean went thru good education system and what did we churn out at the end of the day? Abusive citizens? We should be asking why before we try to do like what K Shamugam do. Pointing fingers. Why is there an increase in the number of cases? Police losing the kind of respect they used to have? Why? Is it due to the increase in population? Are Singaporeans so stressed up today? Why? Is it due to how our home team manages issues and situations nowadays? Taking actions without elaborating, investigating and understanding issues is not going to solve the problem. K Shamugam should provide some deeper insight and thought on this. Btw, I saw on Facebook a while ago, a video of policeman illegal park to buy prata. Not too sure if that is true."
Wilson Lim wrote, "Shanmugan, before you open your mouth, please educate the policemen how to speak to the public. I have on many occasions seen policemen shouting shoving people. Teach them manners first. Basic courtesy should be inculcated before they are put out on rounds."
Yong Kiang Koh wrote, "Yes, Home Team's officers need and must be respected. But, why is this happening? Is this due to evolving perspectives of their performance? You cannot ask a person to respect another person that he does not respect. In real life, this does not happened. A person must acts in a respectable manner before he can be truly respected."
Jonus Jun wrote, "There was one abuse by the police that causes one boy to commit suicide, and you defend the police like crazy, even shifting the blame to the mother."
Ed Yan wrote, "We need to check and verify why there is a rise. Vow action meaning clamp down or ? Maybe a rise in new human population in Spore and that’s why lack of culture towards our boys in blue. We don’t have these problems in the 2000's if I am not wrong. So check it out before any action."
Lukas Godfrey wrote, ""We do not want to cause unnecessary or excessive hurt," he said. "We also do not want any kind of image, caught on video, that can do harm to our own force, and morale as well."
Even if there was evidence that a police officer was abusing his power?"
Andy Wong wrote, "Out of the 484 cases, how many cases are caused by foreigners, how many by new citizens and how by native Singaporeans.
I believe foreigners and New citizens made up the large portion of these abuse cases, and PAP has to be blamed for recruiting them. So Shanmugam, you can shut up."
Patrick Sun wrote, "Last time hardly heard any case of "abuse" Police officers. Nowadays, why so many ? Is the younger generation become more and more idiot? Or the Police officers' standard getting from bad to worse?"
Patrick Yeo wrote, "Show us the data, form a committee to investigate the root cause and then rectify the issues but the committee must be outside the police communities prefer all walk of life in order to get an objective point of view."
Ben Oh wrote, "This Minister doesn't care for human rights too. Don't assume every officer is polite to those they are checking."
Casey Leong wrote, "I think the figure is showing home team officers are abusing their authority on public."
Nanny Lila wrote, "Why suddenly so many disrespectful behaviour towards police?
What is root of causes? Respect needs to earn, not asked or bought."
Esmond Lee wrote, "Went to Police post make a report. The Police themselves also talk like gangsters. They want to fight and cannot even write a proper report ! Until I met this nice Malay Policeman very polite and rewrite the report for me.
Talking to you Queesntown Police Post! Discipline your staff!"
Leonard Xin wrote, "What about Case of Abuse by the Home Team?"