Police mark 200 years: Ex-traffic cop recalls high-speed chases to nab hell riders on Lim Chu Kang '40 tiang' stretch

As the police celebrate their 200th anniversary with an exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore, The Straits Times speaks to past and present police officers who are a part of the police force’s transformation.

Senior Station Inspector 2 Nasir Said, a former Traffic Police officer and trainer, recalled high-speed chases and waiting in cemeteries to ambush hell riders. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

The retired police officer's face lit up when he spoke about police motorcycles and hell riders of the 1970s and 1980s.

Senior Station Inspector 2 Nasir Said, 65, a former Traffic Police officer and trainer, recalled high-speed chases and waiting in cemeteries to ambush hell riders who raced their motorbikes along Lim Chu Kang's famed "40 tiang" stretch. Tiang in Malay means lamp-posts.

The long hours of waiting meant that officers like him often became targets for blood-sucking insects, said Mr Nasir, who joined the Singapore Police Force in 1972.

But his 32-year career, which was followed by another 13 years of re-employment, nearly ended prematurely.

He contemplated leaving the force after the death of a squad mate in 1983 during a night escort mission.

"I was very shocked," said Mr Nasir, who is one of the guides for the SPF200 exhibition at the National Museum Singapore.

"He was close to me... we were brought up together. He was the one who had encouraged me to join the mobile squad."

Mr Nasir had been leading the escort of a small RSAF aircraft when his colleague at the rear of the convoy hit a divider and crashed into one of the airplane's wings.

The officer, who was from the same village in Jalan Kubis (now Ubi) as Mr Nasir, died of a broken rib puncturing his heart before he arrived at the hospital. But Mr Nasir did not know then as there was no physical bleeding.

After being told of his friend's death at the hospital, he became distraught and was unable to convey news of the accident to the man's family.

Mr Nasir's senior officers understood his predicament and allowed him to take a break during that difficult time.

Till this day, he is grateful and said he cannot forget the support from his family members and supervisors.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2020, with the headline Ex-traffic cop recalls high-speed chases to nab hell riders on Lim Chu Kang '40 tiang' stretch. Subscribe