SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in an unusual move, held a special ceremony yesterday morning to present awards to dozens of the men in blue for their swift solving of the Sheng Siong kidnap case last week.
The award for police officers demonstrating professionalism and proficiency during operations is typically presented at the end of the year.
But the officers needing only about 12 hours to nab the suspects after being told of the kidnap - a rare crime in Singapore - has prompted the special effort at applauding their performance.
Said a ministry spokesman yesterday: "The ceremony is usually held on an annual basis. However, special ceremonies are held to recognise outstanding performance and excellent teamwork such as in this instance, when police swiftly solved this kidnap case."
The entire team of 39 officers, two police departments and four units received the Minister for Home Affairs Operational Excellence Award.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the Minister for Home Affairs, looked cheerfully proud as he handed the officers their accolades at the ministry's headquarters at New Phoenix Park in the Novena area.
After the honours, Mr Teo chatted with the officers and was heard telling them: "Well done."
Among the award recipients is Assistant Superintendent of Police Burhanudeen Haji Hussainar, the lead investigator of the case.
Solving it brought him the "most satisfaction" in his 26 years of fighting crime, with cases that ranged from robbery to murder.
Said the 48-year-old from the Criminal Investigation Department's (CID) Special Investigation Section: "The reason I joined this section is because of the challenges and degree of complexity of the cases.
"For this kidnapping case... the successful arrest and recovery of the money gave me a sense of fulfilment that I've never experienced in the past."
The kidnap of the mother of Sheng Siong supermarket chain's chief executive, Mr Lim Hock Chee, is the first in Singapore since 2003.
Madam Ng Lye Poh, 79, was abducted on the morning of Jan 8 after a trip to a Hougang market. She was found about 15 hours later, around midnight, at a bus stop in Seletar, after a $2 million ransom was paid.
Two men were arrested about an hour after Madam Ng was found, and the ransom recovered. They have been charged under the Kidnapping Act and if found guilty, face either the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Yesterday, the assistant director of the CID's Major Crime Division, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Adrian Quek, attributed the operation's success to three factors: Timely reporting by the victim's family, their willingness to trust the police and the close collaboration among the police units.
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