Singapore to set up committee to investigate riot

Singapore, Dec 9: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Monday said a probe committee would be set up to investigate the cause of a riot that broke out in the Little India neighbourhood Sunday evening.

Lee said the committee will look into the factors leading to the incident and the handling of the incident on the ground.

“It will also review the current measures to manage areas where foreign workers congregate, whether they are adequate and how they can be improved. Ministry of Home Affairs will provide more details when ready,” Lee said in a statement.

The riot involving some 400 South Asian workers broke out after an Indian worker was killed in an accident in the ethnic neighbourhood, which is known for its Tamil cultural elements and aspects of other cultures.

The worker was identified as 33-year-old Sakthivel Kumaravelu. The accident was classified as causing death by negligent act, which could mean a jail term of up to two years.

The mob attacked the officers who responded to the incident. Police said they did not fire a single shot during the riot.

It was the biggest riot in Singapore in some 40 years. Around 22 police officers were injured in the incident.

The protestors also damaged 16 police vehicles.

Authorities classified the incident as “rioting with dangerous weapons”.

Police have arrested 27 people in connection with the riot. Of these people, 24 were Indian nationals, two were Bangladeshi nationals and one was a permanent Singapore resident.

The prime minister offered his deepest condolences to the family of Kumaravelu and urged people to remain calm and continue with their daily lives.

He said the vast majority of foreign workers in Singapore are law-abiding.

“They contribute to our economy, working hard to earn a living and support their families back home. We must not allow this bad incident to tarnish our views of the foreign worker community here,” he said.

The police also urged people not to spread unsubstantiated information about the riot.