by Teo Soh Lung
These days, Singaporeans are fond of calling the police. They treat the police as if they are their servants. They call them for everything, from inconsiderate parking of vehicles to occasional noise from neighbours made past the time permitted.
Little wonder that the police have no time to solve real crime, and the Minister laments that he has insufficient police officers.
Our strange, irrational, intolerant, and irresponsible behaviour reminds me of my childhood days when adults used to threaten children who were naughty with: “I call the police to arrest you! or wa kio mata lai liak!” The adults never carry out their threats but threats are threats, and they have probably remained with those children who are now adults! Perhaps this bad habit of calling the police is the manifestation of childhood trauma!
The recent case of the lady at Ang Mo Kio being manhandled by so many police officers is probably the result of one phone call from a person who instead of attempting to resolve the problem himself or herself or minding his or her own business, called the police.
I understand the lady was a little unstable in the mind, and may have been shouting or gesticulating on the pavement. In Singapore, people with mental issues are not a rare sight. It is understandable because living in a city is very stressful, even if it is a garden city. Everything is so expensive. And resting in the public park is not welcome.
Is calling the police the best way to treat a mentally disturbed person? I doubt the police are trained to handle such people.
Not so long ago, I saw a video of a man with probably a bottle of beer, minding his own business in the park. I remember the police tasered him, and he fell to the ground. Like the lady, he was then forcefully arrested by a number of police officers.
What is wrong with our society? Why are we so intolerant or helpless that we have to depend on our police for everything? If animals are injured, we call ACRES or RSPCA to rescue them. Are human beings less important than animals?
In first world Singapore, is there no organisation to help people who suffer mental illness than untrained police officers whose only solution is to use force and send them to police lockups, adding to their already troubled mind.