SINGAPORE: A heated exchange was heard on the ninth day of the hearing by the Little India riot Committee of Inquiry.
A police ground commander was grilled on his decision to wait for backup from the Special Operations Command, before engaging the unruly crowd last December.
The backup took about half an hour to arrive at the scene.
On December 8, the events unfolded while ground commander Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Lu Yeow Lim and his eight officers waited behind shields for backup to arrive.
The reason given was that they were outnumbered by a large crowd of some 60 rioters along Hampshire Road and about a hundred others near Race Course Road.
DAC Lu had just arrived at the scene when projectiles were thrown at his team.
He told the committee that he decided to take up a defensive position and wait for backup.
But the committee grilled DAC Lu on this decision.
Committee member Tee Tua Ba, a former commissioner of police, said DAC Lu chose to stay at a protected area and do nothing.
But DAC Lu said he had every reason to believe the rioters would turn hostile, if they had engaged the crowd.
He also feared the crowd would grab the officers' weapons and use them.
DAC Lu said if they had grabbed the weapons and fired at the officers, a firefight might ensue.
DAC Lu also stressed it was police procedure to amass numbers before taking action.
The exchange between Mr Tee and DAC Lu was intense at times, with both trying to speak at the same time.
At one point, the transcriber had to interrupt the inquiry, as the exchange between Mr Tee and DAC Lu made it difficult for her to make out what each party was saying.
DAC Lu also said that members of the public who saw his team in their defensive position might have thought they were doing nothing.
But he believed the inquiry would inform the public that his decision had been based on vital factors.
He added that it would then be up to the public to decide if the police had acted rashly or objectively. - CNA/ms
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