SINGAPORE - Our question was blunt: Have the police lost Geylang to the criminals?
Superintendent (Supt) Loh Kah Wai, the commanding officer of Geylang Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC), was firm in his answer.
Convinced that his officers still have the upper hand in the red-light district, he told The New Paper yesterday: "We have never lost Geylang... Crime statistics will show we are in control."
The statistics indicate that reported crimes in Geylang like robbery, murder, rape, snatch theft and housebreaking showed a decline in the five years from 213 in 2008 to 135 last year.
But public order crimes like rioting, affray and serious hurt rose slightly from 43 in 2008 to 49 last year.
Geylang came into the spotlight after Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee told the Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearings into the Little India riot last week that there was more "lawlessness" in Geylang than in Little India.
Marine Parade GRC Member of Parliament Fatimah Lateef, who is in charge of Geylang, also expressed frustration over the lack of a concrete action plan to clean up the area.
The New Paper understands that Geylang NPC has about 160 officers compared to an average of 100 for most NPCs.
But Supt Loh, 37, agreed that more can be done to combat criminal activities in the district.
He said: "We need more (resources) in order to get more results. My job is to bring crime figures down.
"I will try to catch all (criminals) if I can. Seriously, bit by bit, it all adds up (in reducing crime)."
He explained there had always been plans before the Little India riot to further reduce crime in Geylang.
Among the initiatives is the installation of 200 surveillance cameras in the next two years to better monitor crime and illegal activities.