It started off as a Meet-The-People’s Session like any other. Cases were taken, residents were heard…but by about 10pm, there was murmuring amongst the residents.
An incident had happened at a nearby block.
Some say it was a quarrel. Some say it was a suicide. Moments later, large numbers of emergency vehicles started to pour in. Followed by ambulances and fire engines.
Ang Hin Kee arrived at Blk 508 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 to the sight of residents being evacuated by the police. The SCDF installed air cushions at the back of the estate. There was a strong smell of gas emitting from his house.
“Residents were sitting around the void deck, so we brought out chairs, water, bread and biscuits. People were talking about a 40yr old Chinese male evading police pursuit for drug offences. He barricaded himself in his apartment together with his mother and threatened to blow up the place”, said Ang Hin Kee.
As the night dragged on, it didn’t look like the fiasco was going to end anytime soon.
“We opened up air-conditioned rooms at the neighbouring CC, brought in blankets and comfortable chairs for the elderly and very young to get some sleep. Most preferred to stay at the void deck so we opened up the RC toilets”
A bit of community spirit magic took place. Residents brought in newspapers, soy bean milk, bee hoon and snacks. However, some residents really wanted to return home.
By about 12.30am in the night, police experts probably calculated the threat level from a gas cylinder explosion and reduced restriction to only the 7th to 9th floors. At about this time, police Special Operations Command forces started to pour in, they look like they were ready to go in and storm the unit.
4am…5am…there was still no action. But by 10am, the police managed to drag the suspect down quietly without injury nor damage to life and property.
“At that point, some of us recognised who he was. The suspect regularly visited us at MPS. He claimed that he had no money, so we assisted him with interim measures and jobs. Sometimes he says he’s hungry, so we helped him with food”, revealed Ang.
“If this person had been a regular figure, could more have been done to prevent this incident”? I asked.
“You couldn’t tell if this person would become a danger. He speaks coherently. He may not be as well groomed like the rest of us and have tattoos but it doesn’t mean we can force measures on him”
The man was indeed coherent. He managed to spend 14 hours negotiating with the police.
When he knew that he was going to be arrested for drug offences, it was clear to him that he could either be detained in rehabilitation or even executed if it was a trafficking offence. The man was desperate.
“There are three good observations to be made from this incident”, said Ang.
First, when the suspect was brought out of his apartment, people didn’t abuse him. There was no verbal attack. No shoe throwing. People looked like they were feeling sorry for him.
Second, that the police managed to secure safe custody of him without a need for excessive force. Some residents have asked the MP why he wasn’t up there directing the police to storm the place and end the incident quickly. It is best to let the experts do their work, just like you don’t tell a surgeon how he conducts his operation.
Lastly, all the residents have been well taken care of throughout the stand-off. There wasn’t a need to raise excessive alarm and cause panic. Gossip and rumours didn’t evolve to make matters worse than it was. There was no emotional trauma and everyone carries on with life after today.
As for the man’s mother…the grassroots organisations will be assisting her with damages to the apartment, repairs, food and any other such support required.