Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Police Mentality

Ex-Deputy Public Prosecutor Thomas Koshy wrote to ask if bid rigging should be treated as a crime. Four executives of pest elimination companies had been found guilty of a bid rigging scam which involved contracts totalling about $1 million, victims of which included public institutions such as Temasek Junior College and Alexandra Hospital. Yet the fantastic four were subsequently elected into the governing council of the Singapore Pest Management Association (SPMA) - one retaining the post of president. Even grassroots leaders have to envy that kind of political clout.
Questions must also arise when a businessman was punched by an American sailor in Wheelock Place, or when a man had four teeth knocked off by a stranger in a void deck of a Bishan flat, and all the police did was to take down the particulars of the parties involved and let the assailant go. The police claims their hands are tied by the law and how it distinguishes a “simple” hurt case from one which is “grievous.”
Asking, “Are we setting too high a tolerance (for violence)?” non-Constituency Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim said the public found the inability of the police to act rather “non-sensible”, and continuing to keep things the way they are would “undermine the public sense of safety.” She gave an example: If she scratched someone’s car, she could be arrested on the spot for vandalism; but if she punched someone, causing a nose bleed, she could walk away.
Recent revisions to the Penal Code had expanded the definition of grievous hurt to include (1) death (Picture the cop with notepad in hand, “Sir, the victim is dead, can we treat this case this as a grievous assault?”) and (2) non-consensual penetration of the vagina or anus. Wait, the exalted law makers provide that the last instance is grievous only if the penetration “causes severe bodily pain.” If the assailant mimicks Marlon Brando’s creative use of butter in the classic Last Tango in Paris, the police may let him go. And Al Qaeda types will freely roam Orchard Road if they tweak their assault tactics, “No bloodshed, internal injuries only!”