Commemorating 200 years of the Singapore Police Force, Honoring the Retirees and the Families of Officers Killed in the Line of Duty.

On 3 August 2021, my parliamentary colleague, Mr Christopher de Souza moved a motion to commemorate 200 years of the Singapore Police Force. In my speech in support of this motion, I focussed on the contributions of our retired police officers, especially during the days in the 1960s and 1970s when we had serious law and order issues. I also spoke about the sacrifice of the families of officers killed in the line of duty. I asked the Minister to consider honouring the retirees and the families of our fallen officers by presenting them with a meaningful token that would represent our nation’s debt of gratitude.

Commemorating 200 years of the Singapore Police Force, Honoring the Retirees and the Families of Officers Killed in the Line of Duty.

Mdm. Deputy Speaker, it is my honour and privilege to support this Motion filed by hon Member Mr. Christopher de Souza.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has, over two centuries since the founding of modern Singapore, made Singapore one of the safest countries in the world. This security which allows us all to walk safe at night, to work without fear in the day, this peace of mind, is a public good without price.

We honour SPF officers, past and present, for their courage and unwavering sense of duty; we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the past and those who walk the streets each day, know that this sacrifice may be demanded of them in the future.

In my speech, I would like to focus on the contributions of our retired SPF officers as well as the sacrifice of officers who gave up their lives in the course of their duties.

Mdm. Deputy Speaker, today in this House we have 30 retired officers. Between them, they served and I calculated this, 1,040 years cumulatively. That is almost 35 years per person. A good number of them joined service in the 60s and the 70s. In those days, we had serious issues in enforcing law and order. In particular, we had to contend with the menace of secret societies, a point that hon Member Mr. Christopher de Souza made. SPF needed stout-hearted people to deal with these problems. Thankfully, it had a good number of such officers.

Let me tell you the stories of these brave SPF retirees who are present here.

Detective Station Inspector Anthony Low joined SPF in 1962. He is now 78 years young. In 1974, Mr. Low, then a detective sergeant, was called to attend to a case of an armed robbery in progress at a finance company. The robber had a revolver. He forced the manager of the company to draw money from a bank and bring it back to her office. The manager tipped-off her colleague before leaving for the bank. That was how the Police were alerted. Mr. Low laid an ambush in the office. The robber entered the office, but somehow sensed danger and rushed out. Mr. Low gave chase.

It is useful for me to pause here and explain the significance of this to hon Members. What I am relating is not a movie scene. This is a case of an officer, chasing a robber known to be armed with a gun. Need to have guts to do this! Whilst climbing up the staircase of a building looking for the robber, the robber in turned ambushed Mr. Low. He struck Mr. Low on his head with the butt of his revolver repeatedly. The robber then relieved Mr. Low of his service gun and tucked it into his waist. He then said the chilling words, “Why do you want to risk your life looking for me? Today is my day or yours.”

He then asked Mr. Low to walk down the stairs. Mr. Low seized an opportunity to grab his service gun from the robber’s waist. The robber then took a step backward to fire at him. Mr. Low thankfully fired first. He survived. The robber died. For his bravery, President Sheares conferred on Mr. Low the Police Gallantry Medal. DSI Low went to have an illustrious career in SPF and retired after 40 years of service.

Mr. Lim Siong, who is also in this House, served in Security Branch, now known as the Police Security Command before retiring as a Station Inspector in 1993. For a good number of years, he was one of Security Officers in the team assigned to protect Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, our founding Prime Minister. These security officers, past and present, are a special breed of people. Their training, their muscle memory is to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our nation’s leaders, if necessary, with their lives.

Mr. Lim Siong joined SPF in 1968 when Police officers still wore khaki shorts. Apparently, the idea was to keep them cool in the day. In 1969, when the then Constable Lim Siong was on duty, he received information that there was a suspicious person lurking around the railway tracks beside the old Chartered Bank along Upper Bukit Timah Road. What was happening was that a communist sympathiser was planting a homemade bomb at the railway tracks.

Mr. Lim Siong acted quickly. With his baton, he managed to disarm and handcuff the person by himself. he then recovered the bomb which was in a Milo tin and the communist flag from the scene. Today, these items can be seen at ISD’s Heritage Centre. Mr. Lim Siong’s quick thinking and fearlessness saved lives. Just two weeks later, however, sadly, a bomb did explode at Upper Changi Road, Seven Mile, killing a lady. Those were dangerous times.

Hon Members would agree that there has been a sea change in the crime and security situation in Singapore since the 1960s and 1970s. It is our good fortune that SPF could count on its brave and dedicated officers who turned the tide against crime and disorder. There is no doubt in my mind that SPF today stands on the shoulders of these giants. To them, I would like, on behalf of a grateful nation, to express a debt of enduring thanks.

I now wish to pay tribute to our Police officers killed in the line of duty and their families.

Mdm. Deputy Speaker, SPF kept records of fallen officers only from 1901. Based on these records, 125 officers have been killed in the line of duty to date. But I would imagine more officers would have perished in SPF’s 200-year history. I am indebted to the Commissioner of Police for providing me with a list of the officers who have been killed in the line of duty and I seek your permission to annex this list to my speech, please.

One of the officers in the list was the late Inspector Allan Lim Kim Sai. He was a second generation Police officer, following the footsteps of his father who joined the Police force when we were still part of the Straits Settlement.

On 5 August 1965, Inspector Lim co-led a pre-dawn operation to capture a notorious gangster and his men who were responsible for several kidnappings in Siang Lim Park at Geylang. A fierce gun battle ensued. The gangster even lobbed hand grenades which exploded causing injuries. Inspector Lim perished from the wounds he suffered in the gun fight at the age of only 28.

At the time when Inspector Lim died, his only son, David Lim was just nine months old. The responsibility to take care of David fell fully on his mother. Raised by his mother, he too, like his grandfather and his father before him, joined the Singapore Police Force in 1992. When he reported for duty, after nine months of Police training, in 1993 at Tanglin Police Division, he asked Mr. Peter Lim, his head of department who was a colleague of the late Inspector Allan Lim and present in this House today, “Tell me, how did my father die?”

Mdm. Deputy Speaker, Mr. David Lim is in this House today. He retired as a Superintendent of Police two years ago. I extended an invitation to his mother, who is now 84, to attend Parliament. Unfortunately, she is not fit enough to travel.

One other person’s name that appears in the list of 125 officers is the late SI Boo Tiang Huat. In November last year, I spoke in this House about his case. I related how, at the age of 47 in 1994, he was killed in the line of duty by an axe-wielding person at Newton Road. I was his colleague then and I was at the scene several minutes after he perished. I spoke about the anguish his widow and three young children felt when I accompanied them to the location he passed away to pray for his soul later that day.

SI Boo Tiang Huat’s widow, Mdm. Chew Tuan Jong is present in this House. So is her son, Mr. Boo Jia Liang. I remembered Jia Liang as a seven-year-old boy with spiky hair. He is now 34 years old. Mdm. Chew, a clerk, single-handedly raised her three children — Jia Liang and his two elder sisters. All three graduated from university; two of them, including Jia Liang became teachers. The other is an engineer. Jia Liang shared with me that, knowing how hard his mother worked to raise him and his siblings, all three siblings decided that she should retire 10 years ago and just enjoy life whilst they take full care of her.

For the officers who died in the line of duty, their spouses, parents, children and siblings bore the brunt of the loss. Widows of fallen officers like Mrs. Lim and Mdm. Chew would have to dig deep to raise their children. Children of the fallen officers like David and Jia Liang would forever wonder how life would have been for them if only their fathers had come home.

As a nation, we should never forget the ultimate sacrifices made by our fallen SPF officers in the line of duty. The Commemorative Gallery at the Police Heritage Centre was created as a permanent tribute to them. But we should also not forget the extraordinary courage of the families of these fallen officers too. The sacrifice is theirs too.

Mdm. Deputy Speaker, on occasion of SPF 200, I would like to urge the hon Minister for Home Affairs to consider honouring both our retired officers as well as the families of our fallen officers by providing them each with a meaningful token of some form that will forever symbolise our nation’s indebtedness to them. They deserve, not just our appreciation, but to be remembered and honoured too.

Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok SMC, Advisor to Bukit Batok SMC GROs.