Little India Riot COI: Poor communications impeded police from receiving instructions

There were less than 90 police officers left to face some 150 to 200 active rioters at the height of the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year, the Committee of Inquiry (COI) heard on Tuesday.

State Counsel Sharmila Sripathy presented this evidence, detailing that these 90 officers included those who were previously injured as the violence unfolded.

When asked by the State Counsel if he was aware that there were 90 officers on the ground to deal with the violent mob, Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Jonathan Tang said: "It definitely didn't feel like there were 90 officers." ASP Tang, who was the first senior police officer at the scene, told the COI that both the Deputy Commander of Central Police Division and Commander of Tanglin Police Division were present at the scene. However, his commander, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Lu Yeow Lim from Tanglin Police Division, was in charge of handling the incident. Poor communications on the ground that night posed an issue because both the radio airwaves used by the police and the mobile phone network were jammed. That was why ASP Tang could not contact or receive any instructions from DAC Lu.

"I think the communications breakdown was the key problem," said ASP Tang. "If we had the comms (communications), it would have been much easier for us to communicate."

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