Singapore — In Parliament on Monday afternoon (Aug 2), Workers’ Party chairwoman Ms Sylvia Lim expressed concerns over delegating top-level police leadership powers to civilian officers.
Along with other Members of Parliament, Ms Lim (Aljunied GRC) asked questions about police powers during a debate on the Police Force (Amendment) Bill.
The amendments were discussed by Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan.
The WP chair’s concerns centred around the scope of powers envisaged, as well as the credibility and experience she believes are necessary for such positions of leadership.
Ms Lim said, “We assume that police training is a critical prerequisite for exercising police powers, let alone for commanding those who exercise such powers.
Further, developing police leadership skills is a specialised field that in recent years has been spearheaded by the Police Psychological Services Division; the assessments require potential police leaders to be put through simulations of incident management at the frontline and officers are also continually developed for police leadership.”
She also made mention of the organisational culture among police officers that is “quite distinct” from the civilians who work in the same organisation.
“That being the case, one has to wonder about the delegation of police leadership powers at the highest level to civilians. While these civilians may be senior enough in grade, would they have the necessary experience and credibility to exercise such command responsibilities?,” Ms Lim added.
Ms Lim also asked about why there seems to be a need now to broaden the coupe of powers of commercial affairs officers and special constabulary.
The Aljunied MP has a background in the police force herself, having joined the Singapore Police Force in 1991 as a police inspector for three years.
She was assigned to do investigation work at the Central Police Division Headquarters, later becoming a staff officer under the Director of the Criminal Investigation Department.
During the debate, Ms Lim brought up the wording of the Bill. Saying that it is unclear, she asked Mr Tan to explain when delegations of power would be needed.
Ms Lim’s speech may be viewed on The Worker’s Party’s Facebook page here.
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