Better policing needed in our parks

As a regular user of MacRitchie Reservoir Park, I was horrified to read about the rape of a female hiker there (17 years' jail, 24 strokes of cane for MacRitchie rapist; May 20).

It is not the first time that I heard accounts of harassment in such places.

A friend once related to me how she was surrounded by a few men when she was cycling alone at East Coast Park.

Although public messages like "Low crime does not mean no crime" remind us to exercise vigilance, our freedom should not be compromised.

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As Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan stated: "No woman should have to fear she may be abducted and raped at knifepoint... most certainly not in Singapore."

To give people greater confidence, the policing of such areas should be stepped up.

This does not mean just having more boots on the ground, but making the presence of these security people felt.

Specifically, the area should be patrolled not only by the unarmed rangers of the National Parks Board and PUB, but also by armed police officers, as a deterrent.

As Deputy Public Prosecutor Stella Tan stated: "No woman should have to fear she may be abducted and raped at knifepoint...
most certainly not in Singapore."

Technology could also be used to beef up monitoring.

Not only will these moves improve public safety, but they would also deter activities like poaching, unauthorised release of wildlife and illegal dumping and squatting.

Though some have commented that the rapist's sentence was too light, I think the 17 years' imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane send a strong message of deterrence.

Liew Kai Khiun

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2017, with the headline 'Better policing needed in our parks'. Print Edition | Subscribe