“With great power comes great responsibility “– Benjamin Parker, Spiderman
The riot over the last weekend has put some spotlight on the Singapore Home Team personnel, some receiving praises and at the same time drawing some flak. This incident, has reminded myself of one of my thoughts on National Service, especially those who are posted and serving the Home Team, in this case the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF).
While the bulk of most fit Singaporean male above the age of 18 are assigned to military service of the air, land and sea, and handful yet significant number of them are posted to the Hometeam. They study police protocol and the Singapore Penal Code, and like most of their military counterpart, serving 22-24 months in the service. Most will often forget about these men in blue, since popular culture, news and social media have heavy focus on the military National Service. But often than not, the Hometeam NS boys faces a more real and present danger.
One can argue that the Army training is tough and deal with explosives and million dollar equipment, but the current fact is that they are shooting down the rifle range at our friend, Figure 11, standing blankly in their SAR21 rife scopes. However,the SCDF NSFs react to real blood, fight real fire, and brave the elements to rescue those in distress. The SPF NSFs in other hand, have to arrive on scene, and talking and reacting to REAL people, who sometimes are riled up by their current predicament. Be it a neighbor feud, shop lifting or even knifed-robbery, the SPF NSFs have to react quickly and tactfully to the current situations. Under pressure, he/she must counter-react with the proper protocol, and yet not adding fuel to the fire.
There are many stories to the reason that sparked the riot, but one who have witness a fight in clubs before would know that alcohol, close proximity, and human contact do not mix. In the confusing yet heated situation like the mentioned case, the personnel on scene must not succumb to a case of “ I am a police/ security personnel, I have power and I am above you” cocky attitude. Being a SPF or Cisco officer is doing a public service, one on duty have to treat one with respect, and I feel sometimes the NSFs / or Cisco contract officers MIGHT not have the experience, mental resilience to react to heated situations. I am sure one would have some unpleasant encounter with dealing with police/ Cisco officers. My point is, not everyone who walks into the sight of a duty officer is a criminal (unless proved so).
Man to man interaction is something that cannot to taught in classroom and textbooks, and this I feel will be a challenge to our current highly connected society, where one have the luxury of time to piece out his response in an email war, and where results are based on memorising the best model answer to his 10-year-series.
These NSFs will be the face of homeland security and the product of National Service. I have seen really scrawny policemen where the MP5 submachine gun is almost twice as wide as his shoulders, patrolling the airport. Not doubting his professionalism and his ability to react to situations, but what deterrence does that serviceman emit?
Wearing an uniform to serve one’s country is a scared thing to do, and this uniform gives you extraordinary power that must be used with tact and any miscalculations on their part will echo greatly beyond their control. The men and women of the Hometeam have braved real fire and dealt with real danger day in and day out and I am appreciative those in service. I hope the relevant department will consider providing additional and relevant training and consider fielding the right men for the right job. Not only will that benefit the men on duty, but also the people of Singapore as well.