Spear team a highly valuable resource

It is reassuring to know that we have an elite class of warriors - the Singapore Prisons Emergency Action Response force (Spear) - to call upon should there ever be prison riots (Elite force at the tip of the Spear; Nov 18). Such a resource is highly valuable, something many are oblivious to and unappreciative of.

In October 1987, a violent riot in the maximum security Peterhead Prison in the UK resulted in hostage-taking and heavy damage to property, and necessitated rescue by resources specially trained to deal with prison riots.

The only problem was that such resources were absent and unavailable at that time. The British Army's special forces unit, the Special Air Service, had to be deployed eventually to resolve the situation. This was done to initial objections by UK politicians who felt that sending in military special forces to deal with a domestic criminal situation would set a dangerous precedent by drawing away valuable military resources meant to deal with terrorism and external military threats.

During these times of heightened security tensions, let us develop greater awareness of and appreciation for the people who labour to keep our nation safe. Heartiest congratulations to the Spear force on their 40th anniversary.

Woon Wee Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2017, with the headline 'Spear team a highly valuable resource'. Print Edition | Subscribe