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The Filthy Thought of An Anti-Crime Tax For Singapore

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    From: (Mr) Law Sin Ling 1 Aug 2005 Singapore Review The Filthy Thought of An Anti-Crime Tax For Singapore When government bodies in Singapore insatiably ask
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2005
      From: (Mr) Law Sin Ling
      1 Aug 2005
      Singapore Review
      The Filthy Thought of An Anti-Crime Tax For Singapore

      When government bodies in Singapore insatiably ask for more public
      money, they do away with curtsey and rationality. In strict obedience
      to the letters of the rule is the police force during a recent
      `consultative' dialogue with representatives of the Town
      Councils. On the subject of how the installation and maintenance of
      neighbourhood CCTV surveillance cameras could be financially
      accomplished, it became a simple matter of billing the beneficiaries.

      The nation-wide project, which will see the cameras wired to recorders
      situated in police posts and Town Councils, will be funded entirely by
      the latter. To help to balance the book, the police brazenly suggested
      that the monthly Service and Conservancy Charge (S/C) paid by town
      residents to their respective Town Councils be subjected to another
      hike, less than a year after the last increment on 1st September 2004
      (the first in 7 years).

      The indecent proposal, reported exclusively in the Chinese press, will
      add to the dread of a population already struggling with the demon of
      ceaseless pocket-picking by the public service providers exemplified
      by the government agencies.

      The seeming inability of the Home Affairs Ministry (which runs the
      police department) to muster the ingots to address their professional
      shortcoming of curbing the inexorable growth of neighbourhood crime
      rate is disturbing. After all, the Ministry had shown an admirable
      quality for lavishing on wild fiscal extravagance (see foot note 1).

      Thus, it is incomprehensible that the police should express a
      reluctance to spend on practical national anti-crime and security
      measures, whilst furnishing flippant excuses with the desired effect
      to insult the intelligence of the people of (what the government
      labelled) a mature society.

      The Ministry ought to think harder.

      As an interim solution, the Ministry could explore the possibility of
      cost-sharing with the various governmental bodies, such as the
      Ministry of National Development (HDB), the National Security
      Co-ordination Secretariat (NSCS) under the Prime Minister's Office
      (Anti-Terrorism), and to a lesser extent the Town Councils.

      Town Councils should be entitled to receive grants from the government
      for the upkeep of the system. At the same time, Town Councils can
      further help to rationalise their expenditure by eliminating frivolous
      spending on ill-conceived construction and re-construction of
      neighbourhood amenities (like footpaths), huge political propaganda
      banners at major junctions and lamp-posts, and needless lightings and
      cosmetic renovations.

      A structured progressive installation of the system will also allow
      for greater control over the use of limited funds per budget-year.

      In contrast, a policy of selective installation risks shifting crime
      elsewhere. Residents, all of whom are paying the same amount of
      conservancy charges, would cry foul over the uneven distribution of
      benefits. Uncoordinated retrofitting (as an afterthought) will drive
      up the cost, reigniting the debate on the need for such an intrusive
      measure in a country boasting of a commendably depressed crime rate.

      The use of low-end models can further reduce the cost, although these
      could be technically inferior, and be susceptible to regular glitches
      (as SMRT found to their embarrassment), driving up maintenance cost
      which could repercuss on the residents.

      The need for such an elaborate surveillance setup is disputable.
      Passing the cost to consumers will nudge even the sensible to begin to
      entertain the suspicion that selective installation may just be a ploy
      to create demand-on-envy, or even the extreme view that the police had
      purposefully permitted residential neighbourhood crimes (robbery,
      snatch-theft, house-breaking) to escalate to lend weight to their
      ambition of an island-wide network of surveillance devices to achieve
      a devious objective.

      The world will witness its first Anti-Crime Tax if the latest
      indigestible proposal for alms from the government is approved.
      Co-payment of the sort mooted by the police makes sense only if the
      government is working on a principle of just-enough-money-to-get-by.
      But such is not the case in Singapore where an obsession with stashing
      wealth for the next Big Flood is turning the government into a
      psychotic hoarder.

      It is appalling to State decency to even contemplate such a move
      necessitating citizens to decide between paying to poverty, and being
      impoverished by crime and felonies.

      Such a proposal cannot be justified by any competent government.

      (Mr) Law Sin Ling

      P.S. Footnote 2 contains quotes from British criminology experts on
      the fallacies of over-dependence on CCTV to keep order.


      (1) To sample the meaning of superfluous spending by the Home Affairs
      Ministry, ponder over the following.

      - The construction of a $276 million Home Team Academy to do
      essentially what existing establishments can already achieve without
      dispensing another singe cent,

      - The purchase of 12 Subaru Impreza WRX highway patrol cars with an
      impressive speed to take on traffic offenders which can just as easily
      be tracked and apprehended through a shrewd deployment of ordinary
      patrol cars in collaboration with the island's existing network of
      technologically advanced traffic cameras (how big is the island

      - The cosmetically glaring but fiscally illogical replacement of the
      headdress of the Special Operations Command with a distinctive
      bleeding red,

      - And the highly controversial installation of exorbitant
      plasma-technology TVs in police stations for the distracting viewing
      pleasure of the officers on duty (the police station is not exactly a
      Community Centre for the public to come and go as they please between

      (2) Testimonies from British criminology experts on CCTV surveillance.

      - "The growth of CCTV as the primary means of crime prevention
      could see lesser effort from more traditional community based

      - "Turning the nation's city and town streets into seamless
      surveillance zones is itself no substitute for proper policing."

      - "The TV cameras can't be everywhere. There are hundreds of
      thousands of nooks and crannies left, everywhere you look, and this is
      where criminals are increasingly operating. And when a camera shows
      up, they move elsewhere. Many of the villains are adapting."
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