To round off our series of interviews with History majors on their internship experience, we have Mei Ling, a year 2 History major. Interning together with Nishta in SPF in the same department and branch, and also having the same job scope, see what Mei Ling has to say about her stint there. Don’t miss out this post as Mei Ling recount the thrilling story of detective Anthony Low’s encounter with an armed criminal!
What made you want to apply for it and spend your holiday doing an internship?
I was actually contemplating between teaching and going into the heritage industry for my future career. Since I had previously did an internship with MOE, I thought that by doing an internship relating to heritage this holiday would then allow me to make an informed decision on my future career.
Has this internship made you view police differently?
I must admit that I had very little knowledge of police work. I was limited to experiences I drew from police officers at traffic accidents, police officers on regular neighbourhood patrol, and the television programme – Crimewatch. Haha.
It was only after listening to the stories of the retired police officers that I realized how demanding their job was. The sheer rigor of their work, the sacrifices they had to make, and the life-threatening situations they sometimes find themselves in… All these stories blew me away! Social Studies, no doubt, had taught me well that Singapore was not always the place we know it to be. However, these personal accounts, heard first-hand, afforded me with the chance to re-learn and re-think Singapore’s history. It re-defined my understanding of police work and increased the appreciation I had for our pioneers. These officers, whether senior or junior, contributed to making Singapore the safe and peaceful society that we are now all too accustomed to.
I felt that I had been taking police and their work for granted. I’m glad this internship gave me the opportunity learn more about the police force!
Share with us one interesting story from the retired police officers you have interviewed.
It has to be the story of then D/Sgt Anthony Low who came face to face with an armed robber in the 1970s.
D/Sgt Anthony Low was alerted to a case of armed robbery by an employee of a finance company in Alexandra Road. They then proceeded to meet the victim who informed them that the suspect, known as “Gia Kang” (The Centipede), would be coming to her office to pick up the money they had demanded. D/Sgt Low and his detectives laid an ambush in the office. Upon seeing the suspect, D/Sgt Low recognized him as a gunman whom he had arrested before! The suspect also recognized D/Sgt Low among the plain-clothes policemen and bolted! They then gave chase and came to a block of flats where the detectives split into three groups to search for him.
D/Sgt Low was caught by surprise at the 13th floor by Gia Kang, who took the opportunity to relieve him of his service revolver and held D/Sgt Low at a gun-point. At a crucial moment, D/Sgt Low managed to wrench the revolver back from the Gia Kang and shot him just as the latter was about to reach for his own gun tucked at his waist. Gia Kang died shortly after. Listening to him recount his story was as if you were really watching an action movie! Haha. I know our generation might not have heard of him, however, he was really quite well-known in his time for this case amongst many others!
Throughout the internship, do you feel that you were able to apply what you have learnt academically?
I wouldn’t say that I was able to apply specific skills that I had learnt, but this internship has been very useful in other ways. It had, for one, greatly supplemented my understanding of history. We often learnt of the dichotomy of historical narratives as either coming via a top-down approach or from a bottom-up approach. But to be able to witness and be part of the making of history via the latter approach was a whole new experience for me!
I remember telling my mentor how these pioneer police officers helped add colour to the textbook narratives I was so familiar with – spicing it up with details and bridging some gaps of understanding I had.
Any challenges you faced?
After the transcribing the oral interview, we were required to do a short write-up on the interviewee. I wanted to give an accurate portrayal of each police officer to the best of my ability, being aware that I had the responsibility to not exaggerate the feats that the officers had accomplished, nor discount the effort they had put in. As such, I felt that angling the write-up to give an objective account was quite a challenging task.
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