Aug 18, 2007

Shame on the Police

On a Saturday morning, 40 people put on their running shoes and get together to jog along the Singapore River. A nice, healthy activity. However, they get harassed by the police.

Is "harass" a fair word? Judge for yourself. How would you like it if you go jogging with your friends, and you find that undercover cops are following you, and filming you on camera?

And then the police officers ask for your NRIC, and they insist that you were committing a crime under the Miscellaneous Offences Act. And when you ask the police what exactly you're doing wrong, they say that they don't know.

Well, let me tell you what the "crime" was. These 40 people were gay. That is all.

They were not having sex. They were not in the nude. They were not even waving flags or making public speeches. They were at the Singapore River because they wanted to go jogging.

However, because they were gay,
jogging suddenly became a crime.


So, to Kelvin Yeo, the police officer apparently in charge of this exercise, I want to ask a few questions.

How do you feel about yourself now? Don't you get bored? Don't you feel stupid? Don't you ever wonder whether you could have a more meaningful job than this?

When you joined the Singapore Police Force, weren't you aspiring to contribute to the security and safety of the nation? By nabbing robbers, murderers, rapists and other dangerous people?

How did you allow yourself to be reduced to this? Harrassing peaceful, harmless joggers on a nice, sunny Saturday morning. Where are you going to do your next stakeout on gay people?

Starbucks? NTUC supermarkets? Bus interchanges? Will it become a crime for a gay person to take the MRT train?

The shame of it. To think that you, a civil servant, are getting paid by taxpayers' money, to waste your time like this.

50 comments:

BACTS said...

Our force seems to have very different focus these days, i seldom see them patrolling the streets anymore, even in their police cars. I think I meet them in the hawker center more than any other places.

cAthy said...

This is ridiculous. Since when was it an offence for a group of people to go jogging? Say a group of housewives decide to go jogging together. Is that an illegal assembly?

This only goes to show that the "illegal assembly" law is too broadly construed and allows tremendous scope for abuse of power.

franciz said...

They are only good at bullying our own fellow country men,where we have no means to retaliate.There's simply nothing much you can do if they are out to "harrass" you!
If you don't oblige to his/her request ie. check i/c,your bags or belongings etc,you are obstructing a public servant from carrying out his/her duties.
This is especially so if those so called "law enforcers" are in plain clothes.They manhandle you if you do not cooperate,when you retaliate or raise your voice,haha...you are in for it
1)obstructing public servant from carrying out their duties.
2)behaving in unruly manner disturbing the public peace.
They are the protected gangsters in this country.I wonder if they are equally daring if they are in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan.

Cynic said...

First they went for the opposition politicians standing outside the CFP building, and I did not speak up, because I wasn't an opposition politician.

Then they went for the gays jogging along the Singapore River, and I did not speak up, because I wasn't a gay.

When they came for me...

[apologies to Pastor Martin Niemoeller]

Anonymous said...

It is sad and a dark moment in our history when innocuous and even wholesome activities are considered 'suspicious' and 'law threatening'. Police and Military anywhere in the World are supposed to maintain law and order and to ensure justice prevails. Should Discipline Forces such as the Police and Military failed to define the Meaning of Justice to the spirit of the Word, without favour and prejudice, such forces should be deemed to have failed their duties. Law(justice) enforcements must be carried out in the fairest spirit possible. Anyone in the Police and Military who fails to uphold such spirit of justice is simply not qualified to be a disciplinarian.

The Emperor said...

This is the Emperor's country. Therefore, the laws are his decrees. The police are his hunch men. You, the people, are his subjects and slaves. He can doe anything he likes with the laws and the police. He can also do anything he likes with YOU!

Indradi said...

singapore police never enforce STOP sign and yet they prefer to harass gay runners.

Read this observation of mine on STOP sign.

One time I even asked a police officer near a STOP sign. He was not even aware what STOP sign is supposed to mean.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

You were a civil servant too, so you must understand that you are expected to do your job even when it's shameful, even when your know it's morally or ethically wrong. It's even harder to choose what is morally correct when you are seduced by the high salaries, and you get National Day awards to boot. Or maybe he's so totally brainwashed or a Christian that he's convinced he's actually upholding law and order. Don't be too hard on the individual policemen. What do you realistically expect them to do? Quit his job and work in a law firm or a bank like you?

Andrew said...

3 years ago...in 2004...these famous words were said:

“We will continue to expand the space which Singaporeans have to live, to laugh, to grow and to be ourselves. Our people should feel free to express diverse views, pursue unconventional ideas, or simply be different. We should have the confidence to engage in robust debate, so as to understand our problems, conceive fresh solutions, and open up new spaces. We should recognise many paths of success, and many ways to be Singaporean.”

-PM Lee, in his swearing-in speech in 2004, when he took over as prime minister

Anonymous said...

Wang,
rather than merely blame the police force, why not ask if there's some forces within the organisation that prompt Kevin and the polices to perform such policing act ? The police force act in a irrational way not because they want it but because due to some circumstances that public doesn't know. There are just 'forces' that somehow make the police do such task. It is the same force that cause ST news to be only pro-PAP. There are political party influence within any grassroot organization. If you have any police friend, speak to them, and you know what I talking about.

Politic and social belief of our political leaders could probably be the cause of such irrational and dubious act afterall our politic party rules Singapore, isn't it ? And anything that doesn't flavour the ruling party will just be ridicule as history has shown.

Anonymous said...

agreed with what bacts said... now police are less seen on the street catching crime and uphold justice, they are seen more at hawker or food center to buy good food and snack back to their air-conditioned office to enjoy...

i find that it is wasting tax-payer money in building more high-class air-conditioned office and expensive patrol car where they suppose to be on the street patrolling the dark alley and hdb area where foot and bicycle is necessary.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that MIW and ministers, PM Lee, MM Lee run with those gays rather than merely push the responsibilities to police force as watch dog.

Those ministers who set those policies against gay must have the guts to face the gay afterall they are leader not coward, aren't they ?

It very cowardice of leader who will ask people to do what he will not do. No wonder, no respect for our leaders, only despect.

Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh said...

As ridiculous as this is, it is wrong to demonise the police, particulary in a system like ours, where we are taught to strictly follow orders, not make value judgements on our own.

http://spaces.msn.com/Rosewine1 said...

It is hard for anyone to do the dirty job passed down by superiors.

I don't think the police officer (Kelvin and his team) likes to do what is assigned to them, unless Singapore is so crime-free that one doesn't have anything better to do. I would feel really demoralized being in such an action group. If I am my own boss, I would rather harrass the illegal prostitutes loitering in the HDB estates than harrassing the gays doing a run.

I guess in the eyes of the superiors- Prostitutes serve a social need, gays don't.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Kelvin and his team really wanted to round them up, but knowing the general attitude of Singaporeans, I don't think they were inclined to do it with the idea of 'upholding justice' and carrying out their civic duties passionately. I can't say much for them, but as an ex-legal civil servant personally, I did find my colleagues and I complaining, on occasions, about the irrelevance of certain tasks we had to do, knowing they would bring certain ridicule and injustice on every front. Still, I need to bring in the next paycheck. That's just how it goes.

I'm not speaking up for the entire civil workforce, but remember, they are undeniably working FOR the government and most of them have no say in what they can do, especially if they're further down the scheme. I know I had none.

I'm a Christian, but I don't see the need to break up a gathering of joggers. It's a waste of public resources, really.

Well, unless it was known that he carried out his duties with a certain relish and joyfulness, isn't it a little judgemental to pile all the blame on him (and his team)? I do feel sorry that he's getting all the heat, especially if he's just like you and I.

Ponder Stibbons said...

It is a nation of people who continue to follow orders obediently that maintains a dictatorship. Which ethical line must you cross before you hand in your resignation? Concentration camp guards, too, were "just doing their jobs". Change can happen only if some people refuse to continue doing their jobs.

Mr Wang Says So said...

What other bloggers say:

Lancerlord - Of the Pink Run, Cancelled by the Police.

Friskodude: "In an amazing feat of police investigation, Singapore authorities last week busted a group of gay and lesbian joggers who planned to run around Boat Quay and then retire for cocktails. Good work Singapore! You've once again made yourself the Orwellian laughing stock of Southeast Asia."

Sheep City: You Can't Jog If You're Gay

Yau-ming's blog!! said...

Its amazing that the police can bother doing undercover work on these runners - don't they have better things to do with their time?

At the Marina Bay fireworks display, I didn't see any police officer directing traffic on the way out- there were a lot of fences that were causing dangerous conditions for pedestrians.

What is wrong with the priorities of our police force.

Mr Wang Says So said...

You guys must have forgotten. I'm a TAR professional. I have magical powers to alter reality by manipulating thought.

In my present exercise, I create a thought-provoking post which, so long as it manages to reach one officer in the relevant police department, will promptly be circulated by him to his other colleagues, including Kelvin himself.

It will be the kind of thing that they discuss animatedly among themselves in the police canteen during lunchtime. "Eh, you know that blogger, Mr Wang, guess what he wrote about Kelvin on his blog! Walau, really kena hantam, man! Hahaha." Etc.

With a little bit of luck, it will be escalated, not necessarily formally, to other people within the SPF, who have different responsibilities and different interests, who will see this example as a possible opportunity / argument to advance their own position.

For example, someone in the Public Relations or Corporate Communications department in the public will take note of the Internet activity surrounding my post as a reputational risk undermining the good reputation of the Singapore Police Force.

The decision may then be made if Alex Au's group, PLU, wants to do something harmless, such as jogging etc, they should be left alone to do so, because the potential reputational fall-out, if police action is viewed by Singaporeans on the Internet as inappropriate, is just not worth the trouble.

After all, if a TODAY journalist or a New Paper writer picks up on the story immediately after reading Mr Wang's blog, some civil servant somewhere in the police force will need to do some explaining to some Higher Power in the police force, right?

Such a nuisance. A smart cover-ass police officer may wisely decide that it's better just to leave the gays alone to go jogging. After all, jogging is a wholesome, cholesterol-lowering activity in line with the Healthy Lifestyle campaign organised by the MOH.

Furthermore, it may be decided that if such a story hits the press, there may even be a phone call from LKY to deal with. "Commissioner, do you have the COMMON SENSE to understand that your men SHOULDN'T be doing such things, when I have ALREADY gone on public record saying that the Singapore government will not persecute homosexuals!?!"

And this will free PLU to continue their peaceful, harmless, wholesome activities. Which is the way things should be.

Ahh, you people. You don't understand how the world works.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Whilst it is admirable to for you to be commenting on what is a laughable, if not downright despicable actions of our boys-in-blue, I wonder if it may be hypocritical of you to be picking on one enforcing personnel.

I am sure you, having being once an "law" enforcer of the state, realise that the problem of the kind of questionable action by members of the state institution may be systemic than just down to an individual. So why pick on one individual or comment only on this issue? What about the harassment of the SDP?

Also as a once-DPP have you ever come across cases where the police may have overstep, or in you conscience feel to have done so, even attempted to throw out such cases brought by the police? Were you never pressured to simply side with the boys in blues, contrary to the spirit of the law?

Ok, I don't expect you will have to answer the questions raised, so just accept them as rhetorical.But IF, and a BIG IF, that you have in your past incarnation of enforcer of the state have cave-in to pressure to act contrary to the spirit of the law, ought to be more circumspect about targeting one specific person, especially a lowly ranked civil servant?

Tan Ah Kow

Mr Wang Says So said...

I make no apologies. The interpretation of my post is ultimately an interpretation. Who knows, if/when kelvin yeo reads my post, he may be drawn into reflecting seriously on the questions I have posed. If his personal principles are in line with his recent work, then indeed I am highly unapologetic. If otherwise, then my post may provide impetus for him to think about whether he really wants to do what he has been doing.

Regarding my own employment history, as a matter of fact, one reason I resigned as DPP was that the job was incompatible with my own in-principle views on capital punishment. I have blogged abt this a couple of times before - if interested, just search my present and also previous blog.

Anonymous said...

Our police force is an immature bunch of idiots who take orders blindly, or rather they were blind in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Theoretically, the Armed Forces and Police Force ideally are indepedent of politics and politicians. Their duties are to protect the sovereignty and rights of the Nation and its' citizens as well as to uphold Law, Order and Justice. How Justice is defined in the social and legal contexts in its' application in a society has to be clearly stated and understood by all and sundry. Justice in its' neutral and natural sense is fairness, righteousness, propriety and reasonability. It should not be Law or legality because a regime has legislated Justice to suit its'(regimes') purpose. Justice in its' absolute meaning is too idealistic but that should be the ultimate and most wholesome way it must be interpreted. It is whence objectively defined that Justice can serves its' maximum purpose. Maybe I am wrong to be too idealistic but I know I am never wrong to say justice prevails ultimately; yours sincerely scb.

Recruit Ong said...

So, to Kelvin Yeo, the police officer apparently in charge of this exercise, I want to ask a few questions.

How do you feel about yourself now? Don't you get bored? Don't you feel stupid? Don't you ever wonder whether you could have a more meaningful job than this?

When you joined the Singapore Police Force, weren't you aspiring to contribute to the security and safety of the nation? By nabbing robbers, murderers, rapists and other dangerous people?

How did you allow yourself to be reduced to this? Harrassing peaceful, harmless joggers on a nice, sunny Saturday morning. Where are you going to do your next stakeout on gay people?


Mr wang ah, all this questions why you dun ask of the police during last yr's hong lim park incident involving opposition politicians? Is it a crime then to be opposition politicans in SG? oops... ^^

Mr Wang Says So said...

You mean chee siok chin's episode? I did indeed blog about that, posted a rather vivid picture too. Go and check if interested - it shd be in the september 2006 archive or thereabouts

Anonymous said...

I just happened to know abt this incident by my colleague. I wish that police can spend more than arresting trickster, thief, robbers, find those missing people rather than find fault in harmless folks.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Mr Brown has an opinion about this matter too. Click here.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha People who has sympathy for the individual policeman really don't get the picture. It's not about blaming them individually. Like some of you pointed out, they don't have any real power; it's just a reflection of a higher order and the prevailing hegemony. By taking a stand, it forces the "higher order" to take notice, if and only if, this debate catches fire and become substantial. The "higher order" don't especially care about these police guys, unless of course, they feel the heat...

Robert L said...

Let's look at it in another way.

If I were Kelvin Yeo, AND if I hated to do that job, I really think I would be happy to see Mr Wang's post. And if Kelvin Yeo has any children reading the blogs, he would even contribute a supporting comment criticising the police action, and show it to his children. An anonymous comment, of course.

So I think Mr Wang did the right thing in singling out specific persons who carry out policing duties we don't agree with. Don't forget, even Hitler's minions were charged with war crimes.

In fact, how about going further - show Kelvin Yeo's photo? Perhaps even minions who are carrying out a dictator's instructions might think twice if they know that their photographs are going to circulate in the internet.

Anonymous said...

i think he is just carrying orders, i assume he couldnt even choose which police unit he goes to. spare him, he is just doing his work.

Singaporeans by large are still very conservative. Although gays/lesbians probably existed thousands years ago, it will probably take another 100 more years for people to accustom, unless a major global uprising materialises ( something like industrialisation blah blah).

nah, i think majority of us still are peace loving, we want to love and be loved. But i digress.

Spare the poor man.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Ned Stark has some related thoughts - Homosexuals in Society.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say this but I will repeat it again that 'good man' does not a soldier(and policeman)himself maketh because the disciplines in the Forces contravene the orders of democracy. It is dumb, blind and stupid instruction takings in chain of order and even 'proper channel' of reporting irregularity, registering complaints etc simply do not seem reasonable. Nevertheless, I see the need for a professional fighting force to protect and defend the country and the people. However, when enforcement officers and the Judiciary are not independent in administering and upholding justice, a mockery of the Justice System is obvious for all to see. We have had seen many armed forces and police forces battling protesters(in S Korea, Philippines, Bangladesh etc) who were either their(forces personnels) friends, relatives and least countrymen and killing each other in the process. None of them were protecting their countries nor their countrymen but the opposite; infighting and the question is for what? To do a job partially with no regards for justice is to abet injustice. But in the Disciplinary Forces, one takes orders with no right to question them(the orders and the Orderer). Reality is such that some have to sell their bodies and some have to sell their souls for a living, it is sad but true. And of course there are people who uphold justice and honour and would rather sacrifice self(career/livelihood) than to do injustice to others.

Anonymous said...

My son's preschool had a scavenger hunt with the parents involved, the school's principal had to apply for a license. The traffic police came round to make sure we were orderly.

Years ago, a small group of people decided to wear similar t-shirts in memory of the tian-an men incident, the police clamp down on them, and told them not to do it.

They are doing their jobs. Maybe you can try applying for a license next year, the jog is harmless enough, as it is.

It's a nice thought to give them a t-shirt since you had spare.

cheers.

pennythots said...

What is the message on the pink T-shirts? The photo is too small for me to read it.

Was it just a walk, or was it a group of people trying to make a statement?

A politicised statement?

Was the million man march just a walk by some black guys?

miak said...

pennythots - the tshirt says adlus pink run 2007.

Anonymous said...

You people talk a lot.

And then the PAP still gets voted in. Hur Hur.

Anonymous said...

Lets not blame the guys in blue, they were just carrying out an order. After all being receptive to instructions is the cornerstone of any uniformed group. Blame the persons who issued the instruction ! They/He is/are the ones who need to be questioned for a justified rationale for what happened.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

I like yr posts.

U're obviously riding on yr popularity.

From yr angle in this posting, it's also obvious:

U ARE getting thin—really fast— on credibility.

I liked yr posts.

Regards.

Anonymous said...

i think it's time for a lot of us to decide if we are just doing a job that feeds the family and listening to the instructions or do we want to be doing the right thing.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Other bloggers' thoughts -

Berita Hairan at Kampong Dusun - link.

Marajaded - Angry.

Mr Wang Says So said...

One more - "I'm Gay So Now I Can't Jog?"

Anonymous said...

well mr wang, you must understand that the police is just listening to orders from someone on the top. Isnt that always the case? It's their job, whether they like it or not. to disobey, they will be charged or lose their jobs or something. I do agree that it's silly to bust the run tho. Car forums regularly print their own t shirts and organize big gatherings and they get by peacefully without attracting too much attention. So really, cant see what's wrong with a group of people going running. Healthy living, afterall! - j

Anonymous said...

To have a more balanced view, a proportion of Singaporeans, the size of which is debatable, are against homosexuality becoming a norm in life. The mainstream teachings of Islam, Christianity and Catholicism do not accept homosexuality as normal.

By using jogging, an innocuous activity, the joggers are perhaps trying to make homosexuality more acceptable as a part of life in Singapore, without the ethical, moral and spiritual issues.

Should the police has done what they should? Perhaps not. Perhaps it was too heavy-handed. Jogging does not break any law outright. It is at the blurred line where it is not obviously illegal. It would spark debate if the police come down on them, and they would have achieved the goal of making homosexuality more mainstream if nothing was done.

One thing is for sure, I would not want to be in the position of the police officer.

Anonymous said...

Wil,

Well done policemen. Should have arrest all of them. They are too lenient. The joggers run with an evil intent, so they deserve it.

Anonymous said...

My 5-cents worth...

The whole issue is not about jogging being an innocent event. Its about promoting gay events (pink run) that is unacceptable. Its ok to be a gay, but no need to show off. Nobody is refusing you your private right to indulge in your preference, but you are going too far if you are promoting something not widely accepted here. If you are not happy with the accepted norms in Singapore, then you may consider migrating to another country.

Anonymous said...

If you were any astute you would see that any police force is only the executive arm of government and such actions are only undertaken at the behest of the political masters which the populace has voted for.

To cast aspersions on the police having "nothing better to do" reeks of common ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Spare our men in blue...you think they want to be there? It is usually the top mgt making the decision and the below follows....why targeting one particular officer ? If you wish, confront the division concern!!!! They could be acting on complaint by someone out there? If our men in blue didn't react, they will also be complained....If you wish to stay in Singapore...live with the law..else...go somewhere else...To avoid such "inconvenience"...obey the law and apply for permit...

Anonymous said...

cmon this pink jog is nothing caompared to "Al-Qaeda And The Cucumber Fatwas".

Anonymous said...

This is in line with the government's attitude towards gays. As long as you do things behind the scene, they are willing to bat a blind eye to it. But if you have a group of gay joggers, then you are too "above-board" and too eye-catching. The government will construe it as an effort by the gays to challenge the negative stereotypes that society has of gays, that they are actually normal people who also can lead a healthy lifestyle. The government is afraid and is not interested in learning the truth. It is just interested in retaining the status quo as long as the status quo keeps them in power and if the majority of Singaporeans want to maintain the status quo, the government will just go along with it. It is the votes of the majority that the government is harnessing for, not the votes of a weak and small community like the gays. This government is not founded on principles!

Anonymous said...

Mr wang,

Do you blame the counter staff at the McDonald's for not serving you breakfast after 11am? Is it his or her fault? Did he or she implement such policy?

Do whatever you want in life; be it walking on both your hands, breathing in and out through your mouth, eating up through your ass hole or for that matter, deciding to be gay! Just bear in mind that any attempt in going against the Order of Nature will bear its consequences!!!

Good luck and may you sleep in peace.....