Scandal forces Galimore out

LOS ANGELES — USA Gymnastics Chief Operating Officer Ron Galimore resigned on Friday as the organisation continue to flounder in the aftermath of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.

Galimore, a 1980 US Olympian who had served in the position since 2011, was the highest-ranking official left at USA Gymnastics who was employed while Nassar’s crimes were committed.

Other top officials, including president and chief executive Steve Penny, previously resigned or were forced out.

Penny was indicted in October on felony charges of tampering with evidence in the investigation of Nassar, who was jailed for life earlier this year after abusing more than 250 athletes, including several stars of the United States’ gold medal-winning teams at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

The federation offered only a brief statement on Galimore’s departure, saying their board of directors had accepted his resignation.

Galimore himself told USA Today in a statement his resignation “was not associated in any manner with the online discourse and media reports that have tried to link me to an effort to shield Nassar from scrutiny.”

The Indianapolis Star reported in May Galimore was one of the federation officials who kept quiet about why Nassar was absent from events in 2015, after the federation became aware of reports the doctor had abused gymnasts.

“I have spoken with investigators and been deposed concerning these matters, and am confident I have always acted responsibly and with the best interests of athletes in mind,” Galimore told USA Today.

His resignation comes 11 days after the US Olympic Committee announced they are seeking to disband USA Gymnastics, accusing the federation of failing to grapple with the aftermath of the Nassar scandal. — AFP


Publicity seeker

SHANGHAI — Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas accused Bradley Wiggins of trying to drum up publicity yesterday with his controversial comments about drug cheat Lance Armstrong.

Former Tour winner and five-time Olympic champion Wiggins came under fire earlier this month after including the disgraced Armstrong in his new book, Icons.

Wiggins, who retired from cycling in December 2016, also called Armstrong the “perfect” Tour de France rider, while conceding many people would disagree.

The 38-year-old was widely condemned for his appraisal of Armstrong, the American who was stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned from cycling for life in 2012.

Thomas, who rode with Wiggins for Britain and Team Sky, said after finishing second in the Tour’s Shanghai Criterium that he did not share the opinion of his former teammate.

“Brad’s got a book to sell,” said Thomas, the 32-year-old who became the first Welshman to win the Tour de France when he triumphed in cycling’s most prestigious race in July.

“He does not have to worry about anything, either. He does not have to race his bike and deal with journalists.

“He can just say what he wants and do any interview he wants so he can say something like that and get a load of publicity.”

Wiggins, who launched his book this month, was quoted by the BBC as saying he was not “praising” Armstrong.

“I’m not condoning for one minute what Lance did,” Wiggins said.

A little of the gloss was taken off Thomas’s Tour victory when his trophy was stolen after being displayed at a cycle show in Britain.

Police launched an investigation but, nearly two months on, have not found it.

Armstrong cheekily tweeted in response to the theft: “G — bummer, dude. I got 7 of em if you wanna borrow one.”

Thomas — known as “G” in the cycling world — gives that short shrift.

“No, I’ll leave that I think,” said the unimpressed Team Sky rider, who was beaten into second in Shanghai by Peter Sagan of Slovakia.

Thomas, said that he was “working on getting a replacement one (trophy)”.

“But at the same time, I’ve got all the memories and the Yellow Jersey at home,” he said.

“But it’s weird why someone would take that — it’s not like you can sell it.” — AFP


Beaten Cilic eyes Cup high

LONDON — Marin Cilic said on Friday playing against some of the top players in the world at the ATP Finals had given him a boost ahead of next week’s Davis Cup final against France.

The Croatian crashed out of the tournament at London’s 02 Arena in the group stage, winning one of his three round robin matches against John Isner.

But the world No 7 said he would approach the Davis Cup final, being held on clay courts in the northern French city of Lille, in good heart.

“Just playing against top guys just maybe lifts your level a bit, focus-wise,” he said after his 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 defeat against world No 1 Novak Djokovic.

“Playing-wise, you have to play every single point on a high level. I feel that might help me.”

Cilic, 30, will be joined by Borna Coric, ranked No 12, as well as Franko Skugor, Mate Pavic and Ivan Dodig at the final, which takes place from Nov 23 to 25.

It will be Croatia’s third final after winning the 2005 title and losing in 2016 to Argentina.

Last year, France beat Belgium to claim their 10th crown. In 2014, they lost to a Swiss team led by Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka.

“We are expecting great atmosphere obviously in Lille,” said Cilic, who reached the Australian Open final at the start of the year.

“It’s going to be great. The French team always plays great at home. They’re known for having great results in France. So it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great to play, great excitement for both teams.”


Irving late show rattles Raptors

LOS ANGELES — Kyrie Irving scored 23 of his 43 points in the fourth quarter and overtime on Friday as the Boston Celtics made a statement with a 123-116 victory over the NBA’s Eastern Conference leaders Toronto Raptors.

Irving added 11 assists and Jayson Tatum chipped in 21 points and seven rebounds for the Celtics, who erased an eight-point fourth quarter deficit to improve to 9-6 while the Raptors fell to 12-4.

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Raptors, who have lost three in a row since opening the season with 12 wins in their first 13 games.

Trailing 82-78 at the end of the third quarter, the Celtics were down 86-78 after Leonard’s layup with 10:37s left in the fourth.

But they outscored Toronto 29-25 in the final frame, knotting the score at 90-90 on Irving’s three-pointer.

Toronto regained a 107-103 lead with 1:29s remaining in regulation, but Tatum’s dunk and Gordon Hayward’s free throws pulled Boston level, while Leonard missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer.

Boston quickly seized control in overtime, in which they never trailed.

“We wanted to come out and be the aggressive team,” Irving said. “We got kind of stalled in that third quarter, but we picked it up again down the stretch.”

In Philadelphia, Jimmy Butler scored 28 points in his home debut for the 76ers, leading the way in a 113-107 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks turned up the heat in the second half of a 123-104 home win over the Chicago Bulls in which the hosts trailed by 18 points at halftime.

In New Orleans, Anthony Davis scored 43 points and pulled down 17 rebounds as the Pelicans roared back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the New York Knicks 129-124. — AFP


A family of Malay cooks from Tanjung Tokong

GEORGE TOWN — In most families, mothers pass down their recipes to their children. Usually the daughters.

In Lallbi Ibrahim’s large family, they have gone one step further. Not only are most of her siblings good cooks, thanks to their mother, but they are also in the food business.

Lallbi, 71, who is one of the older of 23 children in her family, said most of them had to help in their mother’s kitchen when they were growing up.

“I used to follow her around and watch her cook and this was how I learned the basics of cooking,” she said.

Lallbi started her stall selling Malay dishes and rice back in 1976.

“With just RM40 and a three-wheeled cart, I started selling rice by the roadside along Jalan Tanjung Bungah to help my family,” she said.

In the first few years, she said business was poor as there was barely any traffic along that lonely stretch of road heading towards Batu Ferringhi.

Business only started to pick up after more hotels were built along Batu Ferringhi.

“After 15 years of selling by the roadside, the local authorities built a food court down the road and all of the traders were told to move there,” she said.

Lallbi continued selling Malay rice at the food court and was one of the more popular stalls frequented by both locals and visitors.

The food court was partially destroyed by the 2004 tsunami. Later, it was torn down to make way for flats that were built for tsunami victims in the area.

Lallbi, who named her stall using a combination of her two daughters’ names “Lidiana”, then shifted to a new food court built right across from the floating mosque in Tanjung Bungah.

The first year of business in the new location was dismal but soon enough, all of her regular customers came back and the stall has remained a popular haunt till today.

Lallbi’s sisters and extended family are also in the food business. One of her younger sisters, Noorbee Ibrahim, 67, used to run a similar Malay rice food stall in the Tanjung Tokong village, near where the family lived.

When parts of the village was demolished to make way for flats, Noorbee moved her stall to the ground floor of the Tanjung Tokong UDA flats in 1987.

Just like Lallbi, Noorbee’s stall gained a large following of regular customers and would be crowded during lunch hour.

Unfortunately, Noorbee had to retire in June this year. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer and she had to take care of him full time.

Instead of closing down the stall, one of her younger sisters, Noormah Ibrahim, and her husband Mahadi Taib took over the business.

They renamed the stall “Nasi Melayu Mahadi” as Mahadi and Noormah previously had a stall in Kinta Lane in town.

“Almost all of us are in the food business… one of my older sisters does catering,” said another sister, Azzizah Bee, 64, who was helping out at Mahadi’s stall the day we visited.

She said they have nieces and nephews in the food industry too. Some are running stalls in school canteens and one is operating a chicken rice stall.

“All of us learned to cook from our mother and when we came out to start our own business, we each cook our own style and came up with our own recipes,” she said.

Lallbi said when she first started her business, she learned to fine tune her cooking through trial and error.

“When you are poverty-stricken and have to help support a large family, you have to learn and work hard to make it… I helped raise most of my younger siblings,” she said.

Now, Lallbi mostly supervises the cooks at her stall in the mornings while her daughter, Nordiana Daud, has taken over managing the place.


Growing up Peranakan: Stories of one Malaccan family

MELAKA — How often do we hear our parents or grandparents tell us the stories of yesteryear? Too often such tales, especially those of our own families, are lost to time. It was with this concern in mind that KL-born Melissa Chan decided to investigate her Peranakan heritage.

The result is a book, Stories of One Malaccan Family, published by The Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum (run by the Chan family, with Melissa as the former curator) and chockful of stories of what life was like in that small town where it all started.

For Melissa, collecting the stories was a way of honouring her family and heritage. She says, “My memories of Melaka were of the beach of Klebang Besar, the hot afternoons and the smell of the sea breeze, my kai ma (godmother) preparing red bean soup for our afternoon tea, the sounds of the mahjong tiles click-clacking as my grandmother and my grand aunties played mahjong in the central hall of the house, my grandmother speaking a form of Malay that I did not understand.”

Stories of One Malaccan Family is also co-written with Melissa’s 84-year-old father, Henry Chan, for whom the storytelling process was a way to share stories of Peranakan culture with his daughter.

The retired architect says, “It was a challenge to recap the memories of my younger days, and also how to tell the younger generation what we went through during our growing-up years like playing marbles and tops, congkak, flying kites, which kids of today don’t play any more or cycling to school.”

Writing the book for Melissa was akin to writing a love story to what was close to her father’s heart. She adds, “My hope is that family stories allow us the time to know our parents or grandparents. It is an inter-generational exercise that allows us to hear the hearts of our loved ones, and gives meaning to both their existence and ours, and hopefully the younger ones too.”

Delving into her heritage also allowed Melissa to get to know her culture better by learning more about the stories of her family and what surrounded them. She says, “I did not grow up with the Baba Nyonya identity markers such as speaking the Baba patois, so producing the book helped to bring the museum which is the house my father and his siblings grew up in, to life.”

According to Melissa, the tales are loosely based on anecdotes her family members shared: “Some stories, especially the ones of my uncle who joined the Japanese army during the war, are close to the original stories. Stories like ‘mamas bling’, about the goldsmiths commissioned by the matriarch of the household, are imagined through snippets of memories told by the children playing in the household, and the goldsmiths coming into the house.”

The book is beautifully illustrated by Preethi Nair, a fourth generation Peranakan Chinese on her mother’s side (with Indian ancestry on her father’s side). Melissa recalls, “When I met Preethi, I was still working in advertising and looking for a designer. Preethi had illustrated this Nyonya looking out a window onto the street below, and it captured my heart and imagination. Her illustrations captured this innocence and had a tinge of nostalgia to them, which I felt was what the book needed to bring to life the memories of my family members.”

While Preethi’s cultural background is truly Malaysian, she often feels detached from her Peranakan roots. She explains, “I can’t cook or speak the Baba patois fluently, but I can draw, and this was my way to express myself as honestly as I could my love for my heritage and culture. It was a daunting project… I was worried that I would not portray the memories correctly.”

Using plenty of other resources to crosscheck the visuals, the perfectionist discovered that it was a meaningful challenge, from “getting the details right and worrying that it might offend people who may say ‘this is not drawn properly or correctly.’”

Judging by the senior Chan’s reception of the completed book, it’s clear that Preethi and Melissa needn’t have worried. For Henry, the aim of the project is quite straightforward: “With the publication of this book I hope future members of our family will have some understanding of our way of life after World War II, before the formation of Malaysia.”


Restaurant K.Intan: Pursuing a passion for handmade noodles

PETALING JAYA — Love makes us do strange things. Like, how Goh Wee Peng, 39, ended up making wantan mee… all for the love of noodles!

The Muar native can never resist wantan mee which he can eat every day. Wherever he goes, from Bidor, Penang, Bentong and even Johor Baru, he’ll try their wantan mee. Of course, the ultimate wantan mee is the one he grew up eating back in his hometown: a stall that he describes as “a simple taste just like home.”

When he was studying at HELP University, Goh stumbled upon Restaurant K. Intan. Located in Section 17, PJ, it was just a stone’s throw away from where he was staying.

The simple eatery with an old town vibe was run by a husband-and-wife who originally came from Kuala Intan, a small village in Perak. They had ventured out to the city since their children had moved here.

What everyone was drawn to were their noodles that were made fresh on the spot without any preservatives. For Goh, the taste of the handmade noodles was reminiscent of his hometown since they didn’t use a lot of kan sui or alkaline water. He admits to a dislike for kan sui since it can give a bitter tasting edge to the noodles, should you use too much of it.

After he graduated from his business administration course, Goh worked for a short stint in Singapore. That experience left Goh disillusioned with the corporate world.

Together with his wife Tan Chu San, 38, they both realised it made better sense for them to invest their blood, sweat and tears to build up their own business. Most importantly, it also allowed them greater time flexibility. Hence, Gan decided to pick up noodle making skills at the restaurant.

For a few years, he worked as an apprentice under his noodle sifu. After he had learned the ropes, he decided to venture out on his own. The couple operated their own stall which was located in a coffeeshop at Setapak.

Unfortunately, a year later, they returned back to the restaurant as Goh’s sifu had health issues. Eventually they took over the entire shop in 2005, after his sifu died.

Till today, you will find Goh continuing his sifu’s handmade noodle legacy. Every day, you’ll find him at the back of the restaurant, making noodles. Sometimes, it may take a few rounds as they make small batches of the noodles, to keep them incredibly fresh.

In the morning, he’ll mix up a batch of the dough. A lot of chicken eggs and high gluten flour are used. A dash of water is also used to bind the ingredients together. Goh does add a little kan sui to the mixture since it’s impossible to omit it. “If there’s no kan sui, it won’t be noodles,” explained Tan.

The dough mixture may look like rough crumbs but everything comes together when it’s dumped into a noodle machine that presses it out into a sheet of dough. Goh repeats the process a few times, adjusting the dials on the side for its thickness, as the rolls of dough get thinner and smoother.

Throughout this process, you see Goh dabbing potato starch on the dough to prevent it from sticking. Once it is smooth enough, Goh will use the machine to cut it into strands. The noodles will be portioned out.

This, he explains to us, makes it easier to cook the separated portions. Using just his hands as a guide, he’ll take a bunch of noodles, twist them into bundles before ripping them by hand. Each action is a swift one as he tears them into easy to cook portions.

He tells us as there’s no preservatives in their noodles so they tend to discolour even after a few hours. You can also purchase the noodles. He advises that it’s best to store them in the freezer. Goh tells us the noodles taste really good when deep fried to make yee mee.

Bite into the noodles and you’ll notice that the strands are a little thicker than commercial ones. They also have a not overly springy texture but a nice bite, thanks to the abundant use of eggs in the dough.

Most importantly, when the noodles are left for a few minutes and even longer, they don’t stick together since less kan sui is used. This is totally unlike the commercial versions that stick together into a ball when it’s packed back.

Tan tells us that some of her customers even keep it till night time before they eat it. One customer even brought their noodles to Melbourne to eat the next day! Usually Tan advises them to ladle a little soup over to loosen the strands.

Just before they are served, the blanched noodles are glazed with a mixture of soy sauce, dash of dark soy sauce, lard and a bit of shallot oil. Tan advises that using too much lard will make the noodles too rich for the palate, hence they mix a little of fragrant oil used to fry shallot crisps.

Accompanying the noodles are their own-made roasted meats. The char siew has a glistening, charred top with a balanced mix of meat and fat. Tan tells us a lot of customers requested for less fats but they decided this pork belly cut suits this item best — a nice balance with a little fat and meat.

She believes that if there’s no fat in char siew, it’ll be inedible since it will be too dry. Similarly, their siew yoke is a nice crunchy version with a juicy meat and fats that melt in the mouth. The roast pork with its crunchy, golden top is only available during lunch time. It’s only their char siew that is made for their dinner session.

You also have braised chicken feet with mushrooms (kai kiok tungku) prepared by Tan using her family recipe. Not many know of its existence as she stopped serving the dish for one year before recently resuming it. Most customers tend to order their noodles with siew yoke or char siew. If you can’t decide between both roasted meats (they’re both good), go for both selections to satisfy your cravings.

And no meal here is complete without their delicious siu gao or dumplings. The couple insist on wrapping the dumplings themselves… in small batches. With deft hands, Tan will be filling the wrappers with the minced pork mixture with carrots and water chestnuts. A piece of shelled prawn is placed inside before the wrapper is sealed with water. This is all cooked according using their timers, making sure everything is ready to eat.

Don’t ignore the clear soup which is served with the dumplings and wantans. The sweet broth is made from boiling a whole chicken and pork bones. Previously Tan’s customers would ignore the soup assuming it’s just made from another MSG-laden broth. Once they saw she uses chicken in her broth, they now ask her for seconds.

As the couple have been in business more than 10 years, whenever they see anything interesting, they’ll add to their restaurant. The latest addition is a blended green chilli sauce. Goh had sampled a similar chilli dip when he was eating pan mee. Made from tiny green bird-eye’s chillies, a dab of the sauce with your soy sauce gives it a potent kick. Their customers love it. Some even use their red chilli-vinegar sauce they serve with their dumplings to eat with their noodles!

Tan tells us, it’s the same sauce, she’ll serve at home with chicken rice. Traditionalists can reach out for their crunchy pickled green chillies. The piquant chillies complement the wantan mee perfectly.

A day’s work for the couple starts as early as 6am when preparation starts before they open their doors just before 9am. After the last lunch is served, usually by 2.15pm, they’ll wind down to rest for the afternoon. By 6pm, they’ll be open for dinner. You’ll be surprised but there’s customers who come by at night to get their wantan mee fix.

It’s long hours every day for the couple but for both of them, it’s satisfying to build up their reputation. Even though many have asked them to expand, Tan explained it’s not so easy as they want to maintain the quality of their food. Even though they have employed helpers, you will find both of them doing the important tasks themselves.

Our hats off to them for keeping up with the quality despite the hard work.


On the waterfront: Bryggen by day and by night

BERGEN (Norway) — Is there a city more idyllic than Bergen? Cradled in between the peak of Mount Fløyen and the pristine blue waters of the Byfjorden, the most well-known landmark of this Norwegian city is a row of wooden buildings along its harbour called Bryggen.

Its name meaning “the dock” in Norwegian, Bryggen is part of what was one of the oldest trading ports in northern Europe. Today a Unesco World Heritage site, Bryggen is a relic of a time when Hanseatic merchants ruled the city’s harbour in the 14th century.

These merchant buildings line the city’s Vågen harbour on its eastern arc. The earliest structures date to around 1100 but due to a multitude of fires — the bane of structures that were, and still are, predominantly wood — most of the existing buildings hail from later centuries.

We can imagine the houses being destroyed by fire and then rebuilt, over and over, throughout the years. It’s a testament to the hardy Norwegian spirit. Today, instead of merchant warehouses run by the Hanseatic League, the Bryggen is home to restaurants, shops and museums. But this doesn’t detract from the romance of its history. Not for us, at any rate.

The colourful fronts of the buildings are especially striking when viewed from the edge of the harbour. Whether by photograph or by memory, in capturing this vision, we find it simply takes our breath away.

Bryggen can be quite the labyrinth, a maze constructed from wood. Wandering from the path isn’t dangerous but encouraged. How else would we discover hidden alleys and mysterious nooks? Sometimes we walk in shadow before a sudden turn brings us out into the light again. Here’s a bench to rest, there a watch tower for sentries in centuries past.

Who says history can’t be fun?

The houses here don’t seem to have much plant life aside from the occasional pot of flowers here and there. Yet their names indicate a theme of courtyards (“gården” in Norwegian) or at least homes as private sanctuaries: Bredsgården, Svensgården, Engelgården, Bugården, Enhjørningsgården. One of the oldest buildings is the 300-year-old Bellgården — the Courtyard of Bells.

Not far from Bryggen, along the Vågen waterfront, we spot a fleet of yachts that almost lean against one another, prow to prow. Sun worshippers lounge on the decks, enjoying the midday heat and an opportunity to tan in an otherwise rainy Bergen. Others are in the water, some taking ski boats out for a spin.

We don’t get on the yachts, of course. The lifestyle of the rich and famous isn’t for us. Something more to our taste awaits on the dock, closer to land: the Torget fish market. Operating since the 13th century, the fish market is where the freshest haul from the sea and seasonal harvest of the land come together.

The original fish market wasn’t located in Vågen but further out in the Nikolaikirkeallmenning. Every stall that sells seafood owes something to the history of the harbour where fishermen used to come and sell their catch every day. Fast forward to the present and Norway is the world’s second largest seafood exporter in the world!

Alongside locals out for their daily shopping, we investigate the seafood on offer. Some of the names in Norwegian are easy to guess: tunfisk is tuna, makrell is mackerel, flyndre is flounder, østers are oysters, naturally. But what on earth are blåskjell, kamskjell, sjøkreps and blekksprut? These turn out to be mussels, scallops, crayfish and octopus with its slippery tentacles.

Smoking and fermenting are two popular ways to preserve seafood in Norway. In addition to fresh fish, many stalls sell smoked salmon, smoked trout, gravlax and even rakfisk (fermented trout). The latter can be quite strong so, aside from locals, it is probably only for the adventurous tourist.

Besides fruits de mer (“fruits of the sea”), Torget is also a showcase of real fruits. Due to the cold climate, fruits ripen more slowly and develop more intense flavours. Apples and rhubarb end up in pies. Berries, in particular, are considered a very Norwegian fruit. There are raspberries and strawberries, lingonberries and bilberries; even wild cloudberries can be found sometimes.

On the northern shore of the Vågen bay lies Bergenhus festning or the Bergenhus Fortress. This castle built from stone is one of Norway’s oldest, with its earliest structures first constructed in the 1240s. We have seen many a medieval fortress before but this is the first we’ve seen standing guard between the mountain and the sea.

It manages to exude an aura that’s simultaneously militant and nautical, straddling two worlds. Indeed that is a good description of Bergen in a nutshell, and part of the city’s idyllic charm.

Perhaps the most prominent structure of the fortress is Rosenkrantz Tower. The stone tower, known as Rosenkrantztårnet in Norwegian, is named after Erik Rosenkrantz, the governor of Bergenhus Fortress from 1560 to 1568. Its name is younger than its foundations; its first stones were laid by stonemasons during the reign of King Magnus the Lawmender in the 1270s.

However, it was supposedly Governor Rosenkrantz who directed the most interesting modifications in the tower, namely the dungeons on the ground floor. Tales of medieval torture may abound in the local tongue; this is one time we are glad we don’t speak Norwegian!

When night falls over the city, Bergen is illuminated by a web of lights. It’s beautiful beyond words. We recall local legends about trolls and wonder if there are fairies in Norway too, for the city looks like it’s lit up by fairy light.

We find ourselves returning to Bryggen. Its daytime coat of colours transform, looking more surreal and ethereal at night. The witching hour has come. The wooden houses, sit pretty in a row, basking in an unearthly glow. No, it’s not hard to believe in fairies and magic taking hold here, in this old and mythical land.


Making Singaporeans better Samaritans

THE other day some friends and I were driving home after 2am and frankly, I couldn’t wait to be in bed.

However as we stopped at a traffic light in Bishan, we saw a woman, barefoot and staggering across the road.

Her behaviour wasn’t normal and it also didn’t seem to be a result of intoxication. It looked like she needed help so we stopped the car and approached her. We asked her what was wrong but her responses weren’t coherent.

She appeared to be in distress but we couldn’t ascertain why and as none of us were medical professionals, we decided to call the police — perhaps her family was looking for her?

The police responded promptly and said they’d be on the scene shortly. In the meantime, we tried to guide the woman to the side of the road.

After what seemed like ages (but was probably 10 minutes), a police car arrived and seeing professionals on the scene we made to leave. However, at this point a policeman (very politely) asked me to produce my ID. As I had made the call, I had to submit my details.

I was, to be honest, a little irritated at the delay. It was late, I did the right thing, the situation was now under control with many officers on the scene so why the formalities? However the procedure was painless and professional.

It’s broadly a rational system — I assume getting details prevents people from making nuisance calls and allows for follow-up.

Encouragingly on this occasion, the system worked well; people stopped to help the woman, the police responded fast and we were on our way quite quickly.

However, I do think we might still want to look at the procedures Singapore has in place where people do find themselves rendering assistance.

Now I know Singapore doesn’t have Good Samaritan laws — these are laws that protect people who render assistance ie. provide CPR to someone who was drowning etc. from being sued if their efforts don’t work or even make things worse.

The idea is that this protection encourages people to come to the aid of those in need.

In some countries, the law in fact goes even further. In Germany, for example, people are required to help provide first aid to those in visible distress and can be prosecuted for failing in this duty.

Again it does seem quite a logical concept; we live in small dense communities and providing a positive duty to help can help bring people together and see themselves as citizens with responsibilities and not just privileges.

Now whether Singapore needs to go so far as to compel people to help each other is unclear but fundamentally every measure should be taken to encourage people to provide assistance where they can and when it’s really needed.

I think perhaps we should look at technology to accelerate and encourage the right actions.

For example, perhaps in cases similar to the one my friends and I just encountered we should have the option of fill in our details via an app or online which would accelerate the procedure but ensure responsibility.

There are times when you might want to make a report but simply can’t wait for the police.

There are also cases like domestic abuse — especially among friends, family or neighbors when you may not want it to be so clear the call or complaint came from you.

In these case perhaps there should be some means (online) of making an anonymous report.

Insisting on ID details can also put off foreigners, workers and maids from contacting first responders and they too are vital in terms of spotting and preventing accidents and emergencies.

It’s a complex situation, you don’t want everyone reporting on everything and everyone all the time but I do think a positive duty and culture of helping needs to be fostered and both legislation and technology should be deployed where possible for this purpose.

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