I read with great sadness the assortment of reports on the victims of the Kallang slashings in the column, “Long Road To Recovery” (June 6, 2010) by Miss Kimberly Spykerman and Miss Melissa Pang. The tremendous shock and disbelief I had two fortnights ago when I heard of the horrific and unfortunate attacks has evolved into anger against the attackers and sympathy for the victims. Besides the need to prosecute and punish the irresponsible assailants, members of the public should also be cognisant of the ramifications wrought upon the innocent victims: three of whom are foreign workers who simply do not have the financial ability to foot the hefty medical bills.
There are important lessons that should be taken away from this preventable episode.
The efficiency and effectiveness of the police force. The police force has constantly presented the image of corporate competence when it comes to the maintenance of peace and security. While it has been successful in hastily mounting a manhunt to nab the involved suspects, the fact remains that the gang had attacked the four separate victims within a space of seven hours. Why were alarm bells not ringing when the first attack and robbery had been carried out? It is extremely disturbing and unsettling to imagine that additional security and patrol was not enhanced in the area immediately, while the assailants were given the liberty to continue their inhumane acts.
Beefing up patrol routines in the Kallang Area. Comprehending that the Kallang Area is relatively secluded, the Home Team can consider beefing up patrol routines in the area to serve as a deterrent for future attacks. While it is impossible to cover every inch of the island, the relevant agencies should review past cases of attacks and provide the necessary security enhancements. Advisories can be delivered to the nearby residents on some measures they can take if they are commuting in the late nights.
Arrest and prosecute the attackers. Needless to say, the authorities should be applauded for quickly nabbing the suspects. The next step would be to mete out the appropriate punishments for their senseless acts, and send out a strong message that such acts would never be condoned.
Boosting medical insurance for S-Pass and Work Permit holders, and allow for special payouts in unfortunate circumstances. The current payouts would be woefully insufficient for the injured and maimed foreign workers to foot their medical and hospitalisation bills, as well as to make up for the lost income in the future. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) should work closely with employers and insurance agencies to provide more wholesome coverage, as well as to cover employees on a case-by-case basis for special situations. At the moment, voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and related agencies can consider establishing a relevant trust funds, while helping the current workers rehabilitate and manage their financial troubles.
A version of this article was published in The Straits Times.