She made the call to move the road accident victim's body away from the mob into the ambulance despite it going against standard operating procedure.

But Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer Lieutenant (Lt) Tiffany Neo's act drew praise from Mr G. Pannir Selvam, head of the Committee of Inquiry into the Little India riot on Dec 8.

"What you decided at that time was the common-sense call - to break the practice that you had to hand over the body," he said of the 26-year-old.

"Common sense on that day was a rare commodity, and I'm sure they (committee members) all join me in commending you."

On the eighth day of the 24-day inquiry, Lt Neo spoke of how the violence unfolded during the riot and hindered her team from the Central Fire Station while they conducted rescue operations.

The riot was sparked off by a fatal accident. Construction worker Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, was hit by a bus when he fell. A crowd gathered and started hitting the bus with their hands and shopping bags to vent their anger.

They then directed their anger at Lt Neo and her team after rescuers had extricated Mr Kumaravelu's body.

"I was quite perplexed - why were they throwing projectiles at responders?" she had said during the inquiry.

"It was quite confusing and a bit disheartening because we were trying to help."


The rioters continued pelting the damaged bus as Lt Neo and a fellow SCDF officer boarded the bus to rescue the timekeeper and bus driver.

She decided to round up her team and leave the scene only after they had completed the rescue.

"I believed we had completed the task we were supposed to do, and I felt that staying there compromised mine and my team's safety. So I decided to pull all of us out," she said.

- Foo Jie Ying