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Timothy Goh
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Singapore

Old Police Academy: There's nowhere like this, says ex-instructor

The New Paper | Timothy Goh | Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Saving a drowning female cadet was one of the most memorable things he did as an instructor at the Old Police Academy.

Marrying her later would be another significant life event for him.

He is now an instructor with AETOS Security Management and the cadets now are young enough to be his grandchildren.

But retirement is the last thing on his mind because of those happy times at the academy.

For 23 years, fearsome instructor Sri Kanthan, 65, known as the Black Panther, served at the academy in several roles - physical training instructor, range instructor and company commander.

The academy, located at Thomson, officially closed in 2006 and relocated to Choa Chu Kang.

The old building will soon be seeing its last days. TNP understands it will be demolished late this year or in early 2015 to make way for an MRT station and a condominium.

These days, only a few active units doing administration and logistics occupy the premises.

It is a far cry from its glory days, when the sounds of thousands of marching feet could be heard echoing across its grounds.

Walking across the now quiet grounds, Mr Kanthan is struck by a flood of memories from his days here.

"This used to be an obstacle course... this was a boxing ring, this used to be a hockey field," he said as we toured the place.

The spaces he points at are now either boarded up or stand empty, with no visible traces of their history.

Mr Kanthan said the academy used to be a lively place.

"On Friday and Saturday nights, there used to be boxing matches here.

"Every six months, we would have football and rugby matches as well as cross country events."

Mr Kanthan left the force in 2004.

"Things have changed here," he said.

Although he left the force 10 years ago, he feels his time spent there continues to influence his lifestyle till this day.

"I'm still a very disciplined person. My daughters sometimes have to tell me, 'Daddy, we're not policewomen,' when I sent them to school," he said.

His two daughters are now 30 and 31.

At an age when many people are thinking of retirement or relaxing, Mr Kanthan wakes up every day at 2.30am to prepare for his work day before leading exercises for his trainees at Aetos at 5.30am daily.

"I always say to them, 'How old are your fathers? I could be a grandfather and I still run faster than you,'" he said with a laugh.

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