Trip to the Combined Operations Room Exhibition

August 20, 2018

Recently, the secondary 3 cadets had the opportunity to visit an exhibition held at the Combined Operations Room.

Below are the reflections by SGT (NPCC) Nicole

Combined Operations Room Exhibition (fCOR), nestled in the heart of 195 Pearl’s Hill Terrance in Singapore, is an iconic and significant historical structure of the Singapore Police Force. It was the nerve centre where major crises that have shaped current Singapore were managed and resolved. These include the numerous communal and communist related incidents, such as the 1956 Chinese Middle School Riots, Konfrontasi, and the 1969 racial riots.

The exhibition re-creates the 1950s settings and furnishings of the fCOR, specifically after 25 October 1956 when combined operations between the army and police were activated after 4,000 students protested against the de-registering of the Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union (SCMSSU) by staging a stay-in demonstration that progressively turned violent.

This building may only stand a floor tall but fret not, it is a living legend that so many Singaporeans yearn to visit, for its unique engineering-structure and history. The entrance to the building was once guarded by a policeman on duty, but now, the post is left empty as public tours are introduced. The wall to your very right that holds the welcome sign into the space is highly resistible to even 300 pounds of bomb that may be thrown into the building. This is done for the safety of the officers-on-duty. Moving along the squeezy narrow path into the main side of the building, there you can see the different rooms assigned to the different officials. For example, there is a ‘Private room’ that is welcomed only to the head official, where he will be able to monitor the situation’s conditions and give his commands, only in a case where safety of the residents of Singapore is questioned.

The very first exhibition room is a picturesque location that encompasses all the roots that once took place in Singapore, which led to dire consequences. For example, the case of Maria Hertogh, that took place from 11 December 1950 to 13 December 1950. Maria was born a Dutch- Catholic, but parents left her during the War and she came under the care of a Malay Muslim family. Being raised in a Muslim family, Maria reverted to Islam, up till her parents demanded her back. Her adopted parents were hesitant on letting her leave, whilst her biological parents were adamant on her return. When the court decided to return Maria to her family, this caused an uproar amongst the Muslim community in Singapore, where riots and protests took place. This resulted in the death toll of 18 leaving 173 injured. The operations command was called in to assist the injured and attempts to forbid further fatalities from the riots.

The another exhibition room clearly exhibits some of the weapons used in the riots. Such as shields for officers to protect themselves against the fiery crowd , walkie talkie or radios for communication and also red light sirens for airplanes to avoid landing near such obscene areas and guide them onto the right runway.

There is a spacious ‘on call emergency’ area, only for highest ranking officials of the RAF, CID and SPF to interfere. The area is divided into 2 floors. The top floor is a on call room for the ministers to communicate to the RAF, CID and SPF members sitting down on the first floor through a huge glass window. They will communicate via radios, and on the first floor, there will be a huge board that indicates the area of incident, the number of injured or fatalities and the causes of such. The officials will monitor the situation, with everyone in the room. The high ranking officials will report to the ministers for they will remain in the room until the entire case is solved. There is a table with a huge map to show the ministers sitting on the second floor the brief picture of incident, implementing on the level of emergency of the case.

Lastly, here comes the operation room, where the ‘Triple Nine Girls’ will work in while responding to the public’s 999 calls. The girls are seated in a diamond like structured wooden work area, that has their own seats assigned. The main official will be seated on the ‘top’ where she is able to turn around in a circular motion and assist any girls in need. The calls that come in are automated to the other girls in charge, for if the language addressed in is hard for the operator to comprehend. As such, all calls are seriously addressed to, and the caller is able to speak fluently in his own Mother tongue, with the operator being able to fully understand the situation.

The fCOR served Singapore with security and safety, up until the technology took over. To date, this former Combined Operations Room is an exhibition to remind Singaporeans on how long we’ve come, from having typewriters and only some officials attending and responding to emergency calls. This place may Long not be in use, but it definitely lives in the hearts of pioneers and hopefully in our generations.

Jurongville Secondary School NPCC Unit

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