Sunday, September 01, 2013

FT’s contributions to our social wear and tear

The 2012 crime rate is the lowest in 29 years.

That is the “right” thing that I am allowed to read and I am not trying to challenge that. It is with great optimism and humility that I am looking at the crime/behaviour of foreign nationals in our little red dot.

They caught my attention as far back as 2009. Wasn’t that long ago, really. And it doesn’t take a sharp observation to notice that the innovations and vibrancy that they bring to our island.

They impress me in a way which the locally-produced crime fails to. We have our own fair share of crime too, not that there isn’t any, but the pace and its forms pale in comparison to these foreign talents. Ours tend to be too ordinary and predictable. The recent case of the Kovan murders stood out though and beats our imagination. 

On the bright side, these crime or misbehaviour “demonstrated” by the foreign nationals make great contributions towards our society in a positive manner as they help stick spurs in the tides of our own police force and people who have been complacent for too long.  

Sticking spurs into the tide on SPF—kicking and scratching
Some foreign nationals assault the authorities, an action that few of our people would think of. Nevertheless, these foreign men and women were not afraid to challenge the authorities physically. They kicked our police and one even demonstrated the talent of a martial art master and took on 3 police officers alone. A female Chinese national scratched our SMRT staff during a dispute.

These are certainly good real-life opportunities to train our police to be always in their top combat form on the ground. SMRT ground staff might need to upgrade themselves and take up some form self-defence as part of their job scope should such physical challenge become a norm in the imminent future, especially with predicted greater influx of people before 2030.

Sticking spurs into our tides—land and air and MRT too
Singaporeans are a complacent lot in our low-crime environment that we tend to let down our guard whether in the air or on the ground.

On flights, we leave our belongings in the overhead cabins and engrossed in the world of onboard entertainment. When we place order food at food courts and cafes, we trustingly hang our handbags on chairs and leave our handphones and even laptops on tables. We place too much faith in our low-crime environment.

Thus, syndicates responded to our faith.

Interestingly, the Chinese nationals came up with the idea of stealing in the aircrafts. With insecure cabin overheads and passengers engrossed in their on-board entertainment gadgets, it is indeed an ideal and safe environment for thefts. Our local thieves are really daft!

Some came as far as South America to help themselves with $10 000 worth of our valuables on the ground, prying at food courts, shopping malls and cafes. Singapore lives up to the name of one of the richest nations in the world.

MRT is not spared. Our world class transport attracted even overseas thieves to expand their territories to Singapore to operate their activities on trains and stations. They reminded me of my travelling experiences in some crime-common countries where I have to pay special attention to my valuables on public transport.

A big thank to these foreign syndicates who taught us to be vigilant whether on ground or off ground.

Contribution to Sing Post
On the bright side, thefts sometimes create positive job opportunities to our local companies.

Between 2010 and 2011, two groups of South Americans came to Singapore for a “stealing spree” and mailed their loots back to their home country, creating more parcel transactions at our Sing Post and help create more jobs at Sing Post.

Hijacking of taxi and flying public bus stunts
Like a TV drama. Taxis could be hijacked and taking a public bus that could “fly” across a road.

And these are all conducted by ordinary people, not some stuntmen. 3 Anglo-Saxon Caucasians  hijacked a taxi before revelling in bashing up the cabbie and a passer-by. Chinese national took a step beyond hijacking taxi and pulling punches, he drove the taxi straight into an unfortunate cleaner.

Another Chinese national somehow managed to allow our public bus to skid off the road while negotiating a bend and send the bus “flying” across the road before it overturned and killed one of the two passengers on board. That is a 50% fatality rate travelling on a public bus.

Increased competition on housebreakings pie
Many are coming to share the pie of housebreakings.  

From Columbia to China. Fret not. 

With the imminent increase of population, the pie for housebreaking is growing. Nevertheless, even with an increase in the absolute number of housebreakings, it is only a proportionate increase to the increased number of homes appearing on our island.

So chances of our houses being broken into are still as slim as before. The down side is, our local burglars will certainly feel the competitive heat from these foreign talents and their livelihoods might be adversely impacted.

Extra-ordinary violence
Fights involving local gangs are often brutal as we have seen in the papers. Slashings and brutal violence are not uncommon. Such violence, however, no longer restricts to gang members.

Foreign nationals bring their social habits to our boring island and spice up our social happenings.

Even a hawker who originate from China took to a chopper to stop teens from hogging onto computers. Another man drovehis car into his teacher girlfriend and killing her for reasons unknown. Or another boyfriend slashing his girlfriend 17 times on the face during a heated argument in Choa Chu Kang blinding and killing her in the act. Or a husbandmurdering his wife, in Choa Chu Kang too. It has to be a cultural or social habit in some countries with the preference of violence as a means of solution.

Not only the locals have a bone to pick with our cabbies, foreigners too. A Swede and a Norwegian added vibrancy to our animosity with cabbies. The Swede managed to flee from our island while the poor Norwegian has to serve his time behind bars.

Globalization takes place in our prison cells
Internationally famed little red dot we are. For the wrong reason perhaps. Attracted people from all corners of the world to this little island with the intention to challenge our laws or unconsciously provoked to challenge our laws.

We are already seeing an increase on the pace of globalization within our prison cells too. It might create a little over-crowding issue to our cells and availability might be an issue. KBW has relieved the pressure on our BTOs but are our cells prepared for the worst-case scenario of 6.9 million population?

With the large foreign influx allowed onto our island in recent years, there are inevitably some law-breakers who are isolated cases and not representative of their home countries. Nevertheless, with the growing range of nationalities that we have on this island, isolated cases will eventually accumulate. On the bright side, that certainly adds more international colours to our cells!

Changing social landscape
We certainly cannot overlook the fact of the social wear and tear contributed by our local people. We are not as crime-free as we are made to believe even before the lax immigration rule. The casino presence makes its contribution too.

On a brighter note, with the increasing openness of Singapore and our welcoming arms to the world, foreign influx spices up our society and contributes enormously to the new possibilities of wear and tear to our landscape and pushes us for more effective and varied solutions to our social ills.