Home Affairs Minister K.Shanmugam told Singaporeans Tuesday not to draw “erroneous conclusions” on the crime situation in the city-state from two gang clashes involving teens recently, with one case resulting in a youth been slashed to death.
He said the overall crime rates, including gang violence, in Singapore had fallen in the last five years, and the city-state continued to be one of the cities with the lowest crime rates in the world.
The minister said this in Parliament when replying to questions raised by several MPs on teen gangsterism.
Singaporeans were recently shocked by the murder of a 19-year-old Darren Hg Wei Jie, who was hacked to death at a shopping mall at Downtown East in Pasir Ris after he and several friends reportedly got into a staring and brawl incident with a group of youths.
Days later, another youth gang armed with parangs injured several people in a slashing rampage in Bukit Panjang.
Shanmugam said that eight youths had been charged with murder in the Downtown East case, and six others were being processed for detention for armed rioting in Bukit Panjang.
Shanmugam said police had picked up 93 suspected gang members since the end of last month, and they would continue their island-wide sweep.
The minister said the traditional secret societies had also been effectively suppressed by tough police enforcement.
As for the youth gangs, he said they were street corner gangs which were loosely-organised with fluid membership, and had no links with the traditional gangs but adopted their names for recognition and credibility.
He added that the youth gangs, whose members were school drop-outs, unskilled youths and students who were not academically inclined, operated without any specific aim, and they fought over trivial matters like staring incidents, passing of remarks and even accidental contacts.