Category: Current Affairs
Published on Monday, 09 December 2013 06:00
The peace and tranquility Singapore is so famous for was shattered last night when a riot broke out in Little India. Chaos ensued after an angry crowd of over 400 people swarmed around a coach at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road that knocked down and killed an Indian national.
The riot which broke out at 9.25pm on Sunday was quelled around 3am. Authorities said that 27 South Asians have been arrested, and more could be taken in as investigations continue. The case has been classified as rioting with dangerous weapons.
The short episode of the anarchy began when the SCDF received a call about a road traffic accident at the location at 9.25pm informing them that a man was found trapped under a private coach. Paramedics arrived at the scene and the man pinned under the bus was pronounced dead. SCDF rescuers said that while they were extricating the body using hydraulic rescue equipment, they had projectiles hurled at them. Then it escalated from there.
Some 300 law enforcement officers, which involved the Special Operations Command and Gurkha Contingent were deployed to the scene after all hell broke loose.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said there were 18 casualties in total, including four SCDF personnel, 10 police officers, as well as the Singaporean coach driver and his assistant. Seven remained at Tan Tock Seng hospital overnight and most of them are understood to be in stable condition.
As a result of the riot, both private and government vehicles were damaged. The angry mob smashed the windows of the coach, toppled police cars over and even set an ambulance ablaze which proceeded to cause a small explosion.
Many Singaporeans took to Facebook to comment about the situation. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also released a statement on his Facebook page sometime around 3am after the pandemonium died down saying that the riot was “a very grave incident”. He went on to add that the people responsible for the riot would not be spared by the law, and urged Singaporeans to come forward to the police with any information, photos or videos that they might have.
A press conference was held after 2am at the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was flanked by Second Home Affairs Minister S Iswaran, Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee and Deputy Police Commissioner T Raja Kumar.
DPM Teo, who visited the scene with Mr. Iswaren, noted that the riot was sparked from the crowd’s reaction to the fatal accident.
“The Government will not tolerate such lawless behaviour. I have asked Police to deal with all aspects of the incident, including the traffic accident, what happened immediately after the traffic accident, and all ensuing incidents,” DPM Teo said. “Police will investigate the matter thoroughly and deal with all the persons involved strictly, firmly, and fairly according to our laws.”
Mr Ng is taking into account how this is the first riot Singapore has seen in over four decades of peace, and said that in the days ahead, the police will pay “extra attention” to Little India as well as foreign worker dormitories and areas where they congregate.
To be exact, it has been 44 years since the last riot in Singapore. Here is an updated list of riots that broke out in Singapore:
- December 11, 1950 – Maria Hertogh Riot
- May 13, 1954 – 1954 National Service Riot
- May 12, 1955 – Hock Lee Bus Riot
- 1956 – Chinese Middles Schools Riot
- July 21, 1964 – 1964 Race Riot
- 1969 – 1969 Race Riot
- December 8, 2013 – Little India Riot
Photos Credit: Ooi Boon Keong