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To my Academy - 76 glorious years
The Police Academy (PA) closed its final chapter on 31 December 2005. SC/Cpl (NS) Nisar Keshvani pays tribute to this historic training ground, which has seen thousands of officers pass through its gates during its 76-year history.
     
Ten years ago, I marched out of the Police Academy (Thomson Road) gates proud, looking sharp in my police uniform, armed with the law, relevant skills and eager to beat the streets.

Today, late at night, on my 30th birthday, here I am at these very gates. Cycling with my police mates Ho Ser Ching, Effandi Mohamed, Jason Chua and Brijesh Vora. It’s definitely something I never dreamt I would ever be doing.

Why?

Because, in a week’s time, we would be, forever, saying goodbye to my fond training ground. We were producing a short documentary to give the Academy a well-deserved farewell.

Looking sharp in our police uniforms, armed with the law, relevant skills and eager to beat the streets
Looking sharp in our police uniforms, armed with
the law, relevant skills and eager to beat the streets

Here we were straight from work, cycling through the vast compounds, scouting for interview locations. Faded memories came back as if they happened yesterday. We saw ourselves jogging to the Parade Square, assembling for the national anthem and physical training.

When policemen wore shorts …

As we pedalled up the infamous Jalan Bukit, stories our earlier video interviews came to mind.

“I was a trainee in 1962. SI SaSa once caught me whistling at women police officers and as punishment, I had to stay in for three solid weekends. My task was to push a wheelbarrow of cleaning gear up this hill with Sgt Hassan, as we scrubbed and cleaned the Academy grounds. I will never forget that,” recalled ASP (Retd) Stephen Koh, former OC Fitness and Training of the Academy.
Squad sedia! Gearing up for our law lessons
Squad sedia! Gearing up for our law lessons
Our first dive, thanks to former PM Lee Kuan Yew

Back to reality, we turned to look at the Swimming Pool. The four of us laughed. It was here, that half of us who couldn’t swim, learnt and where records were broken. But ît was ASP (Retd) C V Gabriel who told us how the pool came about:

“I was with Security Branch, when the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew asked us to arrange for a musket shoot. The day arrived, and everything went smoothly.

He then asked, ‘Is there a pool in the Academy?’ …

We said, ‘No, Sir’. Shortly after, the pool was built and it was PM Lee, who officiated its opening.”
The legendary mess

By this time, we reached the mess. Without fail, every trainee would be here at least thrice daily. Be it, steel trays, plastic mugs, wooden benches or nice comfortable seats, any trainee never forgets the legendary food.

“When we first arrived, the Academy was our home. A meal would cost us a dollar. A mess helper, once asked me, ‘Are you a Eurasian?’, when I said yes, he pulled out a bottle of chilli and gave me a few scoops. From then on, for the added spice, every trainee, became a Eurasian,” chuckled SI George Pillay, Special Operations Command.
A home away from home

All our conversations, however, led to one single close, people. Be they fitness or drill instructors, law trainers, trainees, squad mates, counsellors or canteen helpers, they all left the deepest impressions.

“The Academy was my first command posting. It was here that I made acquaintances, developed working relations, and left with close friendships,” reflects DAC Ang Hak Seng, Director Planning & Organisation Department.

For me, it was the late nights, polishing boots, or studying for law tests that were unforgettable. Close buddies would gather at the barrack stairs, with hot milo and a Thong Guan biscuit tin to go around. We would reminisce the family we missed, and share our dreams.

Our home away from home - my squadmates and me

Our home away from home - my squadmates and me
Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui, aptly summed our sentiments, saying: “The Police Academy has been a home away from home, a second home, and even a sanctuary to some. To most of us, this place remains a treasure trove of many meaningful moments that are close to our hearts, even today.

... As we leave the Police Academy today, may the warmth of the moment, as well as the goodwill of fellow officers and long-time friends leave us with lingering memories of the many wonderful times we have spent together here, at the Police Academy.”
Having some fun outside the Academy – “Wrestlemania XXXXXII”

Having some fun outside the Academy – “Wrestlemania XXXXXII”

  Many faces, many personalities, one academy

The uniform, salute, training, learning techniques, faces and emphasis may have changed over the last 76 years, but the training ground, my Police Academy has remained one and the same.

After 76 glorious years, we bid farewell to this historic training ground. From Jan 2006, the Training Command (TRACOM) will commence operations at the Home Team Academy (HTA), marking a new era in police training

As the Academy closes a chapter and opens another at the Choa Chu Kang Home Team Academy in 2006, so do I, as I mark my third decade.

At the gates, my closest buddies and me kept silent with a tinge of sadness. We made our separate ways just like we did after our Academy training. This time, probably never to return. Each one of us grateful for the opportunity to say a personal goodbye …

Nisar Keshvani is a consultant, educator and Editor-in-Chief of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac. During his National Service (1996 – 1998), he was Police Life writer.
###
1929 – 2005: My Police Academy

During its 76-year history, the Police Academy has seen thousands of officers pass through its gates. The times, uniforms, skills, training and people have changed but the Police Academy at Thomson Road, as a training ground remained the same.

“We wanted to ensure we give the Police Academy a fitting farewell. After all, every police officer has spent at least six months in training. The same buildings and structure hold many memories for different officers, and what better goodbye than a video,” explained Ms Kittybond Koo, Assistant Director for Corporate Communications.

The 12-minute video includes montage sequences with interview segments. From shooting, fitness, classroom to the morning parade call, it captures the everyday life of a trainee.

“I was delighted that my late nights researching through old photographs in the Academy library were well worth it. The video footage is memorable to retired officers whilst documenting history for future generations,” said ASP Dominic Tan, Senior Trainer, who organised the “Walking down Memory Lane” open house and photo exhibition.

It is peppered with informal conversations with legendary police officers like DAC Ang Hak Seng, DAC Loy Chye Meng, ASP (Retd) Stephen Koh, ASP (Retd) C V Gabriel, INSP (NS) Dominic Chan Jin Hou, INSP (NS) Lawrence Yap, INSP (NS) Tan Siang Meng, SI George Pillay, SSSgt (Retd) Rengasamy Muthuveran, SSSgt (Retd) Madavy Nair, T/Sgt’s Desmond Liang Chew Wei Bin, Choy Wei Hao, Fadhli Fadzli, and TS/Cpl Jayaganesh.

The conversations range from reminiscing trainee life in the 60s, to monumental changes in training philosophy, to the Academy’s rustic environment, to romance and friendships.

“For me the Academy, need help with his quote on the Academy grounds” said DAC Loy Chye Meng, Director, Training Command.

Add sportspeople SSSgt Nair and SSSgt Muthuveran: “It was on the Academy grounds that we trained for the Asian, Southeast Asian and Police games. Most of our records were broken here, and this is also where we met, fell in love and got married in the 70s. We’re the first and only couple to have our wedding on these grounds."

The video was produced by reservists Ho Ser Ching, Effandi Mohamed and Nisar Keshvani who nodded in unison and said: “It was quite an experience, the opportunity to speak to so many officers, and at the same time, reflect on our Academy days.”
     

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