It does say Singapore, You Rawk… doesn’t it? (Photo by evelyn_angel24)
Before I could even celebrate Singapore’s 41st National Day, I saw this disturbing trend about the inaction of our police in protecting their citizens.
First, we saw how my friend Isaiah became a victim of road rage. While he laid on the hospital bed suffering from neck injuries, the Police let his attackers walk away scot-free. As he currently pursues his assault legally, we question on how future incidents like such could be prevented. It wasn’t until this morning when I read the following article from the Straits Times Forum that we realized he wasn’t alone:
Aug 8, 2006
ATTACK ON DOCTOR BY BIKERS
Assault ‘a civil case’, so no police action
MY YOUNGER brother is a medical doctor working in a Singapore hospital.
On April 15 at about 11.30pm he dined alone at his favourite food stall in Geylang Lorong 9. After his supper he was approached by a group of six to eight youths who accused him of staring at them. When he denied doing so, they assaulted him, beating him in the face and abdomen.
He suffered multiple facial fractures and damage to one of his facial nerves. He had to undergo a three-hour operation, which included having two metal plates inserted around one of his eyes.
He will need six months to recover fully and, even then, there will be some deformation to his facial features.
Immediately after the assault, when the gang ran to their motorcycles which were parked nearby, my brother gave chase and, despite his pain and the bleeding, called 999.
While the police were on the hotline, he read out two of the motorcycles’ number plates to them from within 5m. The police came 20 minutes later and then only after a second call.
My brother told them what happened and urged them to alert police patrol cars nearby to be on the lookout as the motorcyclists were probably not too far away. Quite shockingly, the police declined and instead asked him to lodge a report with the Magistrates’ Court, and left.
What is alarming is that in spite of the serious injuries that my brother suffered which required three days’ hospitalisation, the police were unwilling to take up the case.
The police advised that this was a civil case and it was for the magistrate to decide if any action was to be taken.
One would have thought that when anyone is assaulted by a gang of six to eight hooligans and suffered injuries to the extent that my brother did, the case would have been classified as causing grievous hurt and pursued as a criminal case.
The attitude of the police, as demonstrated in this case, will only serve to embolden hooligans to commit even more such offences.
It was only when an appeal was made that my brother’s case was reclassified under Section 325 (from Section 323), 10 days after the incident, by which time witnesses would have dispersed and memories faded.
Had the police acted promptly, especially when they were at the scene, they might have had a better chance of apprehending the culprits as there were witnesses around.
Liew Sok Kuan (Ms)
Based on this trend, I’ve learnt the following about Singapore’s legal system when it comes to personal assaults:
Bad: You can beat anyone up as long as you can threaten them not to make a “civil case”
Good: Freedom of expression does exist in Singapore; the “Rambo” kind of expression.
I wonder if this is the same in other countries…
Any budding lawyers out there care to comment?
UPDATE: MrWang (of Commentary Singapore) cites this plus various other recent cases of police inaction to cases of physical assaults. He finds them doing other things instead, such as harassing Mardi Gras girls at a party and catching seditious bloggers. Priorities people!