Still a cop at heart at 90


KUALA LUMPUR: If 90-year-old Shingara Singh had his way, he would still be out there serving the police force.

The Hakka-speaking former cop describes himself as just “a little too old” but would still like to help the police in any way, especially in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the frontliners, especially police personnel, had done a great job while putting themselves in danger of being infected.

“They deserve to be commended. Malaysians should give a big clap to them for their sacrifices,” he said in an interview.

Shingara, who retired with the rank of Deputy Supt (DSP) about 35 years ago, had originally wanted to become a doctor but the call to serve in the police force was too strong.

“I enrolled as a trainee recruit on Dec 1, 1952, and underwent six months’ training at the police depot, now called the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) in Kuala Lumpur.

“I was the only Sikh among 35 trainees,” he recalled, adding that he started out as a policeman in Parit Buntar, Perak, but was posted to all corners of Malaysia throughout his career.

And along the way, he picked up Hakka.

Shingara, whose hometown is in Batu Gajah, Perak, remembers well the time when he served in Labuan.

“I was then the Labuan deputy OCPD and was put in charge of organising air drops of rations and provisions for Sabah and borders with Sarawak.

“I worked closely with RMAF (Royal Malaysian Air Force) officers. Our rapport was so good that they called me ‘commissioner’.

“They would call and tell me they were landing in a short while. They offered to take me for rides on their aircraft,” he said, laughing.

After Labuan, Shingara was sent to Kota Kinabalu as the Sabah deputy CID chief and eventually became the Kota Kinabalu OCPD.

“One of my fondest moments as the Kota Kinabalu OCPD was when I thwarted a Filipino’s illegal sale of pistols.

“I took a detective with me in a civilian car after discovering that he (the suspect) was hiding in a public toilet.”

Shingara, who was in plainclothes, overpowered the man single-handedly.

“I took his pistol from a pocket and the detective assisted in apprehending him.

“He was later charged and sent to jail,” Shingara said.

His other career highlights include becoming the Sabah CID chief, Kelantan Narcotics Crime Investigation Department chief and Bukit Aman CID (legal and prosecution) division deputy chief.

“Before I retired in 1985, I was in charge of the Federal Police Store (now known as Logistics and Technology Department),” Shingara said.

Having spent 33 years in the police force, Shingara still misses the work and the strict discipline.

“I am very fussy about punctuality, attire and meals as well as my sleeping and waking up times.”

As a police officer, he used to get up at 5am.

He still gets up early so that he can attend to household chores.

“I think that helps me to remain healthy.

“I may not be able to carry weights or do a 100-yard dash like I used to, but I am able to move about freely at my age.

“I’m on top of the world at 90,” he exclaimed.

Shingara’s “police DNA” is ingrained in his family as well.

“I was proud that my younger brother (who has died) joined the force and married a policewoman, too.

“My uncle joined the police force during the British period in 1930 and when the Japanese came, he was still with the force.

“After the Japanese left, he was kidnapped by communists and never came back.

“According to the law, if you have not seen a person for about seven years, he is presumed to have died,” said Shingara, a widower.

These days, the grandfather of five spends his evenings on his front porch.

“When I see policemen on their motorbikes making their rounds, I wave at them. And they wave back.”

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