An auxiliary police officer who was on the ground on the night of the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year had already arrested four men before the crowd started setting fire on government vehicles. But he was then told to stop doing so by his supervisor.
Testifying on the fifth day into the public hearings on the riot, Constable Srisivasangkar Subramaniam told the Committee of Inquiry (COI) that he had crossed from Race Course Road to a coffeeshop at the corner of Kerbau Road shortly after the police and Singapore Civil Defence Forced rescued the timekeeper and driver who were on the bus.
There, he arrested four men who were throwing bottles, grabbing them one-by-one before handing them over to a group of police officers who were at Race Course Road.
"After handing over the fourth person, my ground supervisor told me that what I was doing was brave but dangerous, and told me to stop," said Constable Siva. "He said that I shouldn't have arrested them, because my two protection officers were not there (to witness it), and that it was unsafe for me to effect more arrests."
Constable Siva said he did not know what follow-up action police took with the men he had arrested as he was focused on trying to arrest more rioters, but State Counsel John Lu said he would check with the investigations team.
Former Supreme Court judge G Pannir Selvam, who chairs the four-man COI, then asked Constable Siva if he was of the opinion that had police "done what you did" and also effected arrests at that stage, that the situation would not have deteriorated and the police cars and ambulance burned.
"Yes sir, if more arrests at that point of time had been effected, the vehicles would not have been burned," he replied.
The second witness to take the stand on Tuesday is Assistant Superintendent of Police Jonathan Tang, one of the first police officers at the riot scene on Dec 8 and the initial police ground commander who activated the Special Operations Command.