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Ever Vigilant: On the Ground in Chinatown
Watchfulness and professionalism in the heart of the Chinese New Year festivities.

With the approach of Chinese New Year, the streets around Chinatown and People’s Park Complex are awash in red. As evening falls, shoppers begin to flood the streets, kickstarting the celebratory atmosphere.

Home Team News SPF CNY Bazaar 1
SGT (NS) Liang Kailiang (left) and SGT (NS) Noorsyazwan Bin Mohamed Samsudin. PHOTOS: Soo Jun Xiang

Any occasion with large crowds brings its own set of challenges – the potential for crime, and thus the need for vigilance and manpower in order to ensure safety and security. Among the Home Team officers on duty at this year’s Chinese New Year Bazaar were two Police National Servicemen (PNSmen), Sergeant (SGT) (NS) Liang Kailiang and SGT (NS) Noorsyazwan Bin Mohamed Samsudin. Both were seasoned officers who were serving their seventh and ninth NS cycles respectively. 

The officers had begun their shift by drawing their equipment at Bukit Merah East Neighbourhood Police Centre before arriving in Chinatown. In their bright green vests, they stood out in the sea of shoppers.

Home Team News SPF CNY Bazaar 2

Bustling with the sales pitches of stall owners and conversations with customers, the bazaar hummed with activity. SGT (NS) Kailiang and SGT (NS) Wan maintained a steady pace, alternating between static positions and a patrolling route that brought them along the main avenues of the Chinatown market area and up to Pagoda Street.

As the officers made their rounds, stall owners would reach out to commend them for their efforts. “When they see us patrolling, they feel safer,” said SGT (NS) Kailiang.

Home Team News SPF CNY Bazaar 3

Deployed alongside fellow officers from the Singapore Police Force's Community Policing Unit and the Emergency Response Team, they kept watch on the crowd while offering assistance to those who needed it, like a tourist who came by to ask for directions. At one point, the pair convened with other officers to take precautions over the sighting of a drone in the neighbourhood.

Home Team News SPF CNY Bazaar 4

During his full-time NS days, SGT (NS) Wan had served as a lock-up officer at Central Police Division, so patrolling had added a new dimension to his work. ”I’ve done patrols at Geylang Serai previously during the Hari Raya festive period, and it’s an eye-opener,” he said. “It’s always great to see families enjoying themselves and soaking up the atmosphere. Above all, we’re here to protect them – people shouldn’t feel afraid to go out in their own country."

Home Team News SPF CNY Bazaar 5

Now an assistant engineer with a commercial aircraft company, SGT (NS) Wan shared that his NS responsibilities were different from his usual routine. “Since I’m usually busy working regular office hours for my job, it can be hard to spend quality time with my family,” he said. “When I’m performing my NS shift duties, I actually get to spend a little more time with my wife and kids.”

Home Team News SPF CNY Bazaar 6

As evening fell, the officers trudged through crowds that grew increasingly dense. “That must be hard work,” muttered one passerby, while a child even reached out to offer the officers a high five.

An In-Situ Reaction Team member during his full-time NS days, SGT (NS) Kailiang initially found it a challenge to deal with the public during patrols. Some surprises were more pleasant, however. On one occasion, he ran into his family members who were purchasing Chinese New Year goods. “They were surprised to see me,” he recalled, “but I had to continue with my duties first.”

Home Team News SPF CNY Bazaar 7

SGT (NS) Kailiang and SGT (NS) Wan are among a number of PNSmen teams on duty at Chinatown. This gave them an additional sense of pride, though they didn’t regard this year’s patrols as any more or less important than their previous duties.

“Every Policing duty and NS cycle carries an equal set of responsibilities,” said SGT (NS) Kailiang, “and every call of duty is important.”


© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Soo Jun Xiang
  2. 22 January 2020
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