20131209 Little India riot, has government lost control?

A riot broke out in Little India last night after a fatal accident involving a Bangladeshi worker.

CNA news stated that “five police vehicles and one ambulance were damaged”. CNA From videos posted online, they were in fact overturned, a few set on fire, exploded and charred beyond recognition. Huge plumes of smoke were seen billowing into the air. video from a nearby apartment

A few riots happened during the 1950’s and 1960’s, with the last one occurring in 1969.

(In November last year, foreign workers from China started a strike which had caused some disruption to public transportation. This had not been anticipated by the government.)

Singapore employs 306,500 construction workers, an increase of 70 per cent from 2007, to meet the housing demands of an anticipated 6.9 million population in 2030. Bangladeshi workers congregate in the tens of thousands in Little India every Sunday.

Similar to the strike by Chinese drivers, the riot has caught our government with their pants down. It appears the authorities are inexperienced in handling riots and the response time was totally ineffective to prevent police property from being damage. Was a riot of this magnitude even factored into planning?

The costs to Singapore’s expansion are mounting and this will be another very expensive lesson. It is insufficient for DPM Teo to simply say that “police will spare no efforts to apprehend the subjects involved in the riot”.

The fact is huge crowds of construction workers, in the thousands, congregate regularly on Sundays in Little India. Was there an assumption that all will always be well?

Public confidence has been totally shaken when police vehicles, symbol of law and order, have been blatantly damaged. video showing police cars being damaged (crowds cheering on, SCDF intimidated and taking flight)

Singaporeans also need to be assured that the authorities are up to scratch and there will be no other costs inflicted by foreign workers, not just for strikes and riots. Was such an incident preventable and if so, what really happened?

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