Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Anti-Chinese Muslim Riot in Singapore’s Little India

Bangladeshi and Indian Muslim rioters attacking police.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has ordered an inquiry into Singapore’s first riot in four decades as tensions rise over the reliance on foreign workers in the city state.

“There is no excuse for such violent and criminal behavior,” Lee said in a statement today. A Committee of Inquiry will look into the reasons for the riot and how it was handled, and review how the government manages areas where foreign workers congregate, he said.

The riot, which broke out last night in the Little India district after a traffic accident, involved about 400 people, the police force said in a statement on its Facebook page today.

Police arrested 24 Indian nationals, 2 Bangladeshi nationals and a Singaporean permanent resident, it said. About 300 officers responded to the riot with 22 police officers and 5 auxiliary officers hurt, the police said, adding that all the officers were later released from hospital.

Discontent in Singapore over foreign workers has risen after years of open immigration spurred complaints on social media about congestion and infrastructure strains at a time of widening income inequality. A four-year government campaign to encourage companies to employ fewer overseas workers has in turn led to a labor shortage, prompting some companies to seek cheaper locations.

The riot was “a new thing, that’s definitely a watershed of a kind,” Bilveer Singh, an associate professor at National University of Singapore’s department of political science, said by phone. “I don’t think we have seen this for decades now.”

Fatal Bus Accident Driver Arrested

A burnt-down bus in Singapore.
The violence began after a bus ran over and killed a 33-year-old Indian national (Bangladeshi Muslim?) worker, Deputy Commissioner of Police T. Raja Kumar said last night in a briefing. The bus driver, a 55-year-old Singaporean, has been arrested for causing death by negligent act and is assisting with investigations, the police said in a separate statement on Facebook today.

Vehicles damaged during the riot, including 16 police vehicles, were removed, the police said. The situation was brought under control within an hour and officers did not fire any weapons during the incident, the police said in an earlier statement on Facebook.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, a member of parliament for the district, said in a post on his Facebook page that he will look into limiting liquor licenses within the Little India area.

“In perspective, this is a spontaneous act. It is not something politically motivated. At a broad, strategic level, it is something new after a long time,”

Singh from NUS said. The government would need to act sternly against those who rioted, he said. “The future insecurities of Singapore are one, internal, two, important. Singaporeans won’t tolerate this because Singaporeans are becoming very nationalistic.”

Too Many Foreign Workers

Damaged police cars.
Large-scale demonstrations have been almost unknown in Singapore since race riots in 1964 killed 36 people and contributed to the island’s ouster from the federation with Malaysia. Singapore and Malaysia were united from 1963 to 1965. Clashes between the Chinese and Malay communities culminated in race riots in 1969 in Malaysia, which spilled briefly into Singapore. After the violence of the 1960s the Singapore government imposed curbs on public assembly.

The city’s income inequality as measured by the Gini co-efficient widened last year, according to the Statistics Department. The central bank forecasts inflation will probably be 2.5 percent to 3 percent this year and the island is the world’s third-most expensive Asian city to live in, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit ranking.

2012-November Bus Strike

said Leong Chan-Hoong, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies in Singapore. “Most of them will get a very decent wage but a very small minority may not and maybe this is the minority group that happened to be there at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

As part of its effort to reduce imported labor, the government said in February that companies must pay higher levies for lower-skilled foreign employees over the next two years and cut the proportion of overseas workers in some industries. In 2012, the National Wages Council recommended raising the pay of low-wage Singaporean workers as their income growth had lagged the rest of the workforce for the past decade.

In November last year, Singapore authorities charged four Chinese nationals over their involvement in an illegal strike that led to a disruption in some bus services, an unusual public display of labor discord. Singapore is currently hosting ministers from 12 nations such as the U.S. and Australia for the final round of talks this year on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord.

The government “will not tolerate” such acts, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said at a briefing last night on the riot. Those involved will be dealt with “firmly, fairly, strictly, according to the law,” said Teo.
An Indian-Muslim rioter arrested by Singaporean-Chinese policeman.
Another Indian rioter dragged away by Singaporean policemen.
Very rare scene never-thought-of before in Singapore: Burning police cars.
Even ambulances were attacked by Muslim rioters.
Singapore PM and his ministers inspecting the riot sites.

Little India Riot Highlights Ethnic Divide in Singapore
(This is the usual Socialist take of the riots from the GUARDIAN-UK on Dec 9, 2013.)

The Little India riot of 8 December 2013 highlights the ethnic divide in the island-nation of Singapore. As reported earlier, a mob of angry men of South Asian decent became violent following a fatal bus collision that killed a 33-year-old construction worker. The man has been identified as Sakthivel Kumarvelu, an Indian national.

According to eyewitness accounts reported by local media, the man may have been intoxicated and belligerent as he tried to board the bus, which ran him over shortly after. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the police officers who arrived on the scene before the ambulance behaved in an unseemly manner, fueling the rage.

Channel NewsAsia reports that a female Singaporean timekeeper on the bus was assaulted and the driver, a 55-year-old Singaporean man, then closed the bus doors. The driver was later dragged out of the bus and assaulted by a group of men. The driver was arrested and charged with causing death by a negligent act, but was released on bail. If found guilty, he could receive up to two years in prison, or a fine, or both.

27 rioters were arrested that night, all between the ages of 23 and 45, 24 of them are Indian, two are Bangladeshi, and one is a permanent resident of Singapore. It is expected that they will be charged shortly. The figure of injured police officers has jumped to a total of 39, including members of the Singapore Civil Defense Force.

Police have beefed-up its presence in the Little India neighborhood. Local media Today has reported that more than two dozen foreign workers were being hauled away on police buses on Monday, with no additional details as to why.

The bus accident was a random incident that acted as a catalyst that sparked the Little India riot. Men began to smash the windshield of the bus while the victim was still trapped under it. The Singapore Civil Defense Force arrived on the scene to try to rescue the victim, and some in the mob pelted them with objects.

Three police cars and one ambulance were set on fire. The number of protesters was estimated by police to be around 400, but videos from above seem to show far more–although it is difficult to distinguish the rioters from the gawkers. A total of 300 anti-riot police were dispatched, including special Gurkha officers.

A Muslim cheering the rioters.
Some witnesses to the bus fatality indicate that police did not handle the situation very well at the scene of the accident, becoming antagonistic with those present.

According to The Smart Local: “Apparently, it was understood that the police officers could be those that patrol Little India on a regular basis–and they are known to be rather ‘nasty’ and cocky towards the Indian foreign workers there.”

The Real Singapore reports that several eyewitnesses claim that the man was decapitated, but adds that it is unable to verify the authenticity of the information, and other sources deny that this is true. After police arrived on the scene before paramedics did, they began to “push them around,” causing them to become unruly.

Police Commissioner Ng was quick to draw a wedge between foreigners and Singaporeans: “As far as we know now, there was no Singaporean involved in the riot. The unwanted violence, rioting, destruction of property, fighting the police, is not the Singapore way.”

In order to boost economic growth, the ruling People’s Action Party has made possible the importing of vast numbers of laborers. Of the five million residents of Singapore, only about three million of them were born in the country. Low-wage migrant workers make up about 20 percent of the country’s population, coming mostly from India, China, Bangladesh, and neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

Currently, Singapore does not have a set minimum wage, as most countries in the world do. The passports of migrant workers are held by their employers when they arrive in the country. Many of them complain of long work days with no days off.  They often have trouble collecting wages. Workers are made to sleep in dorm rooms of up to 30 men, with one shower between them. Singapore does not have effective workers’ unions and workers’ complaints are rarely heard.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong states: "The vast majority of foreign workers in Singapore are law-abiding workers. 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.”

Most commentators on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit call for peace and understanding between the ethnic groups of Singapore. Here are a couple highlights:

@smrtsg tweets: “All jokes and cars aside, let not this incident be a catalyst for xenophobia or anti-government remarks.”
@skinnylatte tweets: “As a Singaporean, I believe the death of one foreign worker in #littleindiariots is every bit as important as the death of a Singaporean.”

This is the first time Singapore has seen a riot since 1969, when conflict between Chinese and Malays in Kuala Lumpur spilled over, resulting in seven days of rioting which left four dead and 80 wounded. Chinese and Malay groups also clashed in 1964, leading to 36 deaths, 556 injuries, and about 3,000 arrests.

The riot in Little India on Sunday night will inevitably highlight the ethnic divide in Singapore.
(Blogger's notes: Singapore being run  seemingly forever by Lee Quan Yu and his family and cohorts is as artificial and utopian as possibly can for a tiny island nation occupying one of the most geopolitically startegic locations on this planet.

Singapore would stay that (peaceful and prospering) way as long as Lee Quan Yu’s Secret Population-Ratio or Race-Ratio (not allowed to speak of it, but it actually exists) of 70% Chinese-Buddhists and 15% Malay-Muslims and other races the rest is strictly maintained even after the eventual passing away of Lee Quan Yu.

To maintain that race-ratio and keep power in the hands of Singaporean-Chinese Singapore ID cards strictly identify the race of every Singaporean citizen and permanent resident on his or her way to become a citizen of Singapore. In this ultra-modern world squeaky-clean Singapore is the only nation forcing her citizens to carry that totally-discredited practice of race-identifying ID cards. Australia tried it once but her people overwhelmingly rejected that stupid Aussie Card idea.

Chinese the Ruling Race gets the dominating 70% quota.
The Muslim Malays must not exceed 15% of the population.
Out of all nations Singapore is the only country with Eurasian race!
(If Tiger Wood were a Singaporean he would be identified as Ameriafrisian or Afriamerisian?)
Just to maintain that longstanding Buddhist dominance, in last few years Singapore has even granted almost quarter-a-million educated Burmese-Buddhists the highly-coveted Singaporean citizenship to compensate for the dwindling number of Chinese-Buddhists due to their low marriage and birth rate.

And believe it or not, Singapore has given away her citizenship so generously to so many Burmese engineers that my Alma mater the Soviet-built Rangoon Institute of Technology (RIT) has her biggest overseas Alumni Chapter in Singapore even bigger than the Alumni Chapter back in Burma. This is not a mere Brain-Drain, this is rather like a deadly Brain-Hemorrhage for our desperately poor Burma.

Maybe Lee Quan Yu's own son Lee Hsien Loong the current PM has allowed too many unruly Muslims from Bangladesh and India into Singapore nowadays and that disgruntled Muslim population is growing rapidly and now rioting in Singapore. Welcome to the New Islamic Republic of Singapore!)

Nervous Little India in Singapore after the Indian race riots.

-------------------------- December-12 Update ----------------------------
This is scary! The same night I posted this post it'd received more than 5,000 hits from Singapore alone. Remind you that my blog normally has only about 1,000 total hits a day max. It appears that many concerned Singaporeans are now forwarding my post on their Face book and Twitter accounts. Now at more than 10,000 direct pageviews in just two days and growing rapidly this post has almost become the most popular post of all time on my blog.

I was quite notorious and once was deported out of Bangkok and most Muslim countries ban my blog and even my own country Burma has blacklisted me for so long I haven't been back in Rangoon since 1998. I might already be blacklisted by Singapore for what I wrote on ANU's New Mandala site between 2008 and 2010.

Now some internet forums in Singapore are accusing me as a trouble-maker and stirrer of race-friction among the ethnic groups of Singapore. Many online sites in Singapore have also accused me of not knowing about Singapore at all and bullshitting. They even wished me arrested and hanged and quartered for what I wrote. I'm not sure they still quarter people in Singapore, but I'm so sure they still hang people there.

One thing they didn't know yet is I'd lived and worked and done business in Singapore good part of 1990s. And many of my RIT-graduate friends are now proud Singaporeans living in their own neat-HDB flats and having Chinese and Singlish dual-speaking children the first generation proud Singaporeans. Some even have Singaporean grand children.

So please don't shoot the messenger, as I'm just relaying an important message. And I love Singapore too like almost every Burmese does, since my first time on that famous Serangoon Road in 1992 more than twenty years ago.

One thing I'm seriously wondering right now is why are so many Singaporeans excited or incited by my post? What I wrote as just a short blogger's note for basically a re-post of two news articles from Bloomberg and Guardian-UK might have hit a G-spot of Singapore.

Related posts at following links:
Death of a Burmese Worker in Singapore
Suicide of a Burmese Maid in Singapore
The Scourge of Burma - Part (6)