VIDEO

Little India Riot COI: Bus timekeeper was in "state of panic" when crowd surged

People crowd along Race Course Road in Little India, which is seen cluttered with debris from the riot on Dec 8, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
People crowd along Race Course Road in Little India, which is seen cluttered with debris from the riot on Dec 8, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

When a crowd surged around the bus involved in the fatal traffic accident in Little India on Dec 8 last year, a police officer who was among the first to arrive heard the shouts for help from a woman on board the bus.

Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Tang did not "have sufficient resources to evacuate" the woman, bus timekeeper Madam Wong Geck Woon, 38, and shouted back at her in Mandarin to hide at the back of the bus, out of sight from the crowd. But she was in a "state of panic" and did not do so. Instead, she continued to shout for help in Mandarin.

A blow-by-blow account of how the police responded to the accident, which allegedly sparked the riot that day, was recounted by Deputy Commissioner of Police T. Raja Kumar on Friday morning during the Committee of Inquiry into the Little India riot.

Taking the stand as the first police witness, he said that at 9.23pm that day, the police's Combined Operations Room received a 999 call from a member of the public about a road traffic accident which had taken place at Race Course Road.

The exact message was: "A bus has knocked down someone here. Ambulance required."