SINGAPORE - The commissioners of both the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) were on leave when the riot broke out in Little India on Dec 8.
Their duties that night were covered by their deputies, both of whom have testified before the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the unrest last year.
But the absence of the two chiefs during the incident was not lost on COI chairman G. Pannir Selvam.
Yesterday, he remarked: "In both cases, the commissioner was on leave."
Commissioner of police Ng Joo Hee and his SCDF counterpart Eric Yap were, however, kept fully abreast of unfolding developments that night, their deputies told the committee.
For instance, SCDF deputy commissioner Jackson Lim, who appeared before the COI yesterday, said he had rung Mr Yap, who was then abroad on vacation, to update him on the situation.
Mr Ng, who was also on leave but not overseas, returned to work that evening.
In fact, he was already at the scene of the riot when his second- in-command T. Raja Kumar arrived with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran later in the night.
Mr Lim yesterday gave the inquiry an overview of SCDF operations and the rationale behind the ground decisions that were made by its officers during the unrest.
His evidence before the COI came after the deputy commissioner of police gave the committee a similar report on police actions.
Mr Yap has not been scheduled as a witness for the public hearing, which has heard from 18 Home Team officers.
Mr Ng will testify just before senior narcotics officer Adam Fashe Huddin, who is leading the COI investigation team, wraps up the proceedings as the final witness.
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