Lesson from riot: Always be ready

Lesson from riot: Always be ready
ASP Edwin Yong Wen Wei, 29, Team Leader of Team 'C' Orchard Neighbourhood Police Centre Tanglin Police Division.

Expect the unexpected - that was what the Little India riot taught Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Edwin Yong, who was on the ground as the mayhem erupted last December.

"Many times we take peace for granted in Singapore, because we are always handling a lot of simple disputes. So after this lesson, we will always be ready," said the 29-year-old.

He led a team of about 10 officers to help form a human cordon around a bus that had run over an Indian foreign worker, sparking the events of Dec 8.

He was one of 10 Home Team officers - five police officers and five from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) - to receive the National Day Commendation Medal for their leadership and resolve during the riot. Among them was SCDF sergeant Khyrul Noor Redhza, who was almost crushed when he went under the bus to pull away the body.

For the officers, the night of Dec 8 is not one they will soon forget. "It will constantly play back in your mind," ASP Jonathan Tang, 29, said yesterday at the Police Headquarters. He was one of the first senior police officers to reach the scene. "Could we have done things better, could we have done things differently? It's a constant process of improving ourselves. As a police officer a very important part of your job is the experience that you build up over time."

ASP Yong said the commendations represented the efforts of all their team members. When there were not enough riot helmets to go around, his men offered him theirs.

"You really feel quite touched when you have them trying to protect the team leader," he said.

This article was first published on August 13, 2014.
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