Published: 05 July 2021
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in view of the recent mass gatherings of alleged secret society members during funerals and processions (a) what are the enforcement actions taken against gatherings of secret society members; (b) whether there is a trend of proliferation of such secret societies; and (c) what are the immediate and longer term measures taken against secret societies and organised crime.
1. In May and June 2021, there were two cases involving congregation of secret society members at funeral processions.
2. In the first case, Police arrested three men who were secret society members. The three men had allegedly chanted gang slogans and displayed gang hand signs to show off their secret society affiliation during a funeral procession along Havelock Road on 26 May 2021.
3. In the second case, Police arrested 14 men for their suspected involvement in secret society activities, and another man for allegedly behaving in a disorderly manner while at a funeral wake in the Boon Lay Drive neighbourhood on 13 June 2021. Preliminary investigations found that two suspected secret society members were wearing shirts emblazoned with their secret society’s insignia.
4. Today, secret societies are largely made up of loosely-organised street gangs, comprising mainly of younger members who flit between different secret societies. The secret society situation in Singapore is under control as a result of active enforcement against secret society activities, which sends a strong and clear signal of our zero-tolerance approach.
5. The number of rioting and serious hurt cases with secret society connotations remained stable at an average of 112 cases per year from 2016 to 2020. Anyone found to be engaging in secret society activities may be prosecuted in court for offences under the Penal Code or Societies Act. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, they may be liable for a fine, imprisonment, or both. For egregious cases, they may be detained under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, in order to maintain the public safety, peace and good order of Singapore.
6. Notwithstanding that the secret society situation remains under control, the participation of youths in secret societies remains a concern. That is why the we invest significant resources to educate and engage youths to deter them from joining secret societies.
7. For example, Police conduct regular anti-secret society talks at secondary schools. They also work with partners such as MSF, MOE and Volunteer Welfare Organisations to target at-risk youths. One such initiative is the Streetwise Programme, a six-month long diversionary programme for wayward youths to seek assistance and counselling from social workers and Police officers.
8. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the Police are looking to enhance their online outreach. In 2020, the Police and the National Crime Prevention Council organised the e-Delta League Tournament, which saw more than 100 youths participate in an online football tournament. As part of the tournament, the Police conducted a virtual Youth Workshop to share crime prevention advice, as well as to deliver anti-secret society talks to the participants.