1967 - 1977

Cops used midnight movie ruse to raid dens

Supt Yeo, who finished his NS liability in 2008, was awarded a Pingat Bakti Setia medal.
Supt Yeo, who finished his NS liability in 2008, was awarded a Pingat Bakti Setia medal.

During his years as a full-time national service (NS) policeman, inspector Yeo Chak Khiam and his colleagues would regularly watch midnight movies while on duty.

They were not slacking from work but using the cinemas as a cover, so that they would not look suspicious when it was time to raid illegal gambling operators.

Looking back, Superintendent (NS) Yeo, 59, who is now an IT business consultant,describes his NS years with the Singapore Police Force as "the good old days".

The 40 years of service he has given his country come with fond memories - from going undercover to raid gambling dens to doing mundane duties, like filing seven copies of investigation papers on clackity typewriters.

Supt Yeo, who enlisted in 1977, was in the first batch of NS police inspectors to be appointed investigating officers.

As a young inspector, then 19, posted to Alpha Division in Eu Tong Sen Street, he learnt quickly that the only way to gain respect was to be on the ground with his men.

UNDERCOVER TACTIC

We were not interested in the midnight shows. When lookouts see us come out (of the cinemas), they would not be suspicious. We often struck after the movies had ended, too.

SUPT YEO CHAK KHIAM, on using the cinemas as a cover to avoid suspicion before conducting raids on illegal gambling operators.

So he led more than 50 gambling raids in the Chinatown area, volunteered in anti-drug operations and diligently attended to investigation duties during his full-time NS stint.

He and his men would go for midnight shows at The Majestic and Yangtze cinemas. He said: "We were not interested in the midnight shows. When lookouts see us come out (of the cinemas), they would not be suspicious. We often struck after the movies had ended, too."

While the challenges faced by a modern police force may differ, Supt Yeo said the role that national service plays is vital as it helps a person understand his environment.

Supt Yeo, who finished his NS liability in 2008 and was awarded a Pingat Bakti Setia medal for his loyal service, said an NSman "grows" very fast especially if he is in the police force. "You're always tested and put in real-life situations."

Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2017, with the headline 'Cops used midnight movie ruse to raid dens'. Print Edition | Subscribe