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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All Well that End Well

Thank God, the boy was found safe and sound at Clementi but exactly when and how he got there is still a mystery. At about 3 am while combing through Downtown East, his mum got a call from the police that he had been found and was in Clementi Police Station. Turned out he had somehow made his way there apparently without a single cent or an ezylink card on him. How did he get through in and out of the 2 MRT stations without anybody noticing? Fortunately for him, at around 2 am, he finally got hungry and walked up to a MacDonald outlet and asked for a Coke and Burger. The serving staff on realising that he had no money and couldn't respond to their other questions managed to coax him into the restaurant where they searched his bag and failing to find any ID called the police and fed him with a big cup of coke, chicken, burger and fries while waiting for the cops to arrive.

Arising from this small incident, I am glad to have my faith in the goodness of the human heart restored. So many people responded to the family's plea for help.

- My brother's friends who took half day off work to comb through the Eastern part of Singapore going over and over again the various malls and parks until the wee morning hours
- My friends from the sgrunners who helped to spread the word
- A friend in Simei who rode around the estate on his bike to look around after his work ended at about 10pm
- Our MP, Miss Jessica Tan who contacted the CCC and got the Chairman to talk to the OC of Simei Police Centre which probably resulted in the cops pulling up their socks and increasing their lookout
- M's Boss who came down with her mother and 2 maids and drove around to look for him and meeting up with the school's Principal at 12am and putting him in his place for the school's failure
- And finally the McDonald's Captain, Ms Yattie(?) for helping him, giving him the food and refusing to accept payment from us when we went back to thank her

But a big zero to the cops at Clementi Police Station for their lack of empathy. When we reached there around 3.15am, we were told they were 'out processing' him. 30 minutes later and we were still waiting while the cops continued to chat among themselves without the boy in sight. Our repeated queries were met with a polite but curt 'still processing' and 'let them do their procedure'. At this point in time, we were still not sure whether they got the right person and the poor mother was beside herself with worries and there they were snowballing us. Eventually I raised my voice and the IO finally came out and repeated the out process excuse and that they need to question him. While I recognised that they need to do their job, the long wait was not excusable and there was no reason for them to stop the immediate family member from seeing him. After all, this was a case of a missing child and not a criminal! The IO finally relented and allowed the mother to accompany him but within 5 minutes they were out when he realised that he couldn't be able to get anything out of the boy due to his condition. Couldn't they have done this earlier instead of making us wait almost an hour at the station!

Finally to the staff at Metta School who turned up to help search the area. This whole incident need not have happened if security at school had been more stringent with their security control and the teachers had keep a closer eye on the children. After all, they are dealing with special needs children and not normal children. The school had no security guard  when all government school has guards. The gate was not locked and anybody could walk in and out (like I did last week when I went there to collect some stuff for the Metta Charity Run). I later found out that this was the 2nd incidents recently and in the previous incident, another kid had ended up at Joo Koon MRT before he was found! So to the Principal and staff - when are you going to buck up and tidy up the security issue or are you going to wait for a tragedy to happen before you do something?

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