But first, really I expect more of the president and the police commissioner
— President Tony Tan Keng Yam has urged Singaporeans not to let the violence in Little India last night undermine their confidence in the society. Instead, he said, the people should redouble their commitment to keep Singapore safe, peaceful and strong.
— Police commissioner Ng Joo Hee said of the riot,”It is not the Singapore way.”
Lest they forget, the riot was not started by S’poreans. “Police in Singapore have arrested 27 South Asian suspects after hundreds of people took part in a riot sparked by the death of an Indian national …About 400 foreign workers took to the streets, hurling railings at police and torching police cars and an ambulance.” BBC report.
So why should the president ask us to redouble [our] commitment to keep Singapore safe, peaceful and strong? What did we do wrong? Taz the typical reaction of a PAP govt minister: blame S’poreans. But the president? He is above politics.
Of course ,”It is not the Singapore way.” The rioters were FTs.
And what by the way, one can reasonably ask is the S’porean way in a place where the foreign workforce is 25% of the population?. There are 1.3 million FTs as of June, out of a total 5.3 million people: 25% of the population. The 1.3m figure excludes the 0.54m (as of 2011) PRs who are counted as local. Include them as FTs and at least 35% of the population is foreign.
But I won’t go into a tirade about the presidency or the police because I’m willing to assume that the president and the police chief are like most S’poreans (self excluded) shell-shocked by said riot.
Let’s start at the top. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to convene a Committee of Inquiry (COI), which will look into the factors that led to the unrest and how the incident was handled 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.
After all, he did say it was an “isolated incident caused by an unruly mob”.
The riot was contained pretty fast and efficiently with no loss of life except of that of the accident victim. One could have reasonably wondered why the police allowed their vehicles to be overturned so easily. I tot they should have fired warning shots which might have “sobered” the rioters. But I’m happy with the explanation that the police took a deliberate decision to be “restrained” even if such restraint resulted in my friend’s car being burnt and police-cars being overturned. So I ask again , why a CoI?
Waste of time and tax-payers’ money with money being spent on expensive lawyers, if as I expect, lawyers are allowed to be used.
And at the other end of the spectrum, the human rights kay pohs are filled with angst and self-examination. They are talking (they great at talking the talk, bit like the PAP govt on FT policies) of organising shumething, anything, to achieve reconciliation and gd karma. What for?
The vast majority of the visitors to riot area are not violent, aggressive people. They are there to have a gd time after labouring hard.
And in between, TRE and TOC readers are blaming the govt for everything, Gilbert Goh’s fans are stroking hatred of non-S’poreans, and PAPpists are blaming S’poreans (esp netizens) for being anti-FT and anti-PAP. Mercifully, none of the usual suspects are shouting, like some of them did, at the height of the panic for face masks (remember that?) thaz it’s OK to spread allegations to Facebook friends and that by so doing they are helping the govt. They argue that the govt can counter the rumours that said activists are spreading to their “friends”. If the actions weren’t dangerous, reckless behaviour, the self-justifications would be laughable.
That there has been no riot since 1969 prior vto this riot is neither here nor there. Given that S’pore has always been one of the most densely packed places in the world, there was (and is) the possibility that something like this could happen at any time. That it didn’t happen could be due to luck (juz like two once-in every-50- yr floods occurring in the space of months). Or it could be due to the way LKY ruled the place (remember he retired as MM only two yrs ago and he approved of how Deng Xiaoping dealt with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests*)? Or it could be due to the changing composition of S’pore’s work force** and population.
My personal view is that we were juz lucky especially in having
Sheep S’poreans whose reaction to the fatal accident that started the riot would be to take a look, take a few pics and then move on muttering: “Not my biz”. If Napoleon had S’poreans in Animal Farm, he wouldn’t have needed such brutal dogs.
Wouldn’t it be better to have for the CoI to look into whether the changing demographics of S’pore have caused cultural and societal changes, building-up tensions that can explode given the right mixture of ingredients.
But then PM isn’t that shell-shocked.
I wonder if the PAPpy FT academic calling for a population of 8m by 2030 will be allowed to continue shouting his message. If there is a riot (a riot that causes so much angst) in a population of 5.3m, 25% of whom are FTs, imagine a scenario where there are 8m people here where 37% are FTs***? If one includes PRs, then the percentage of FTs would jump to 53%. I’m use simple extrapolation to derive these numbers.
Update at 8.50am after first publication
Related article that I urge social media users and the usual suspects who argue that sharing rumours helps the govt rebut them:
Sharing information without context can inflame a situation
While the riot in Little India has saddened and shocked many Singaporeans, all of us must be responsible when we share information on social media. I have always reminded my children that “a text without context is a pretext”.
For example, one website used emotional words to describe how the riot was handled. Others were more responsible and reported only the facts, so as not to stir up unnecessary anger against all foreign workers.
Based on what was trending on Twitter, I am glad that most Singaporeans possessed the critical faculty to check for the facts and not believe everything they read.
For example, it was claimed at one point that three civilians and two policemen had been killed. Thankfully, that message died in time.
Most Singaporeans are angry that police cars and an ambulance were overturned and burnt.
It is easy to share such graphic videos online. But let us press the pause button, and ask ourselves what our purpose would be in sharing a video, photo or tweet and whether we are aware of the outcome that would be achieved. What about unintended outcomes? Is there a hidden agenda to the information provided on social media and are we being manipulated?
Do I have all the information on hand to make a rational, informed opinion or am I only parroting some views that excite us but, on deeper reflection, are untrue? Finally, when will the information be processed into accurate knowledge?
Discrete data shared without context can inflame a situation, and perhaps now is a good time to be reminded of the story of the blind men feeling an elephant for the first time.
While our individual, subjective experience can be true, such experience is essentially limited by its failure to account for the whole truth.
Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/riot-proves-point-about-community-relations/
*He took over, and he said: ‘If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China from another 100 years of disorder, so be it.
**An ex-policeman wrote a commentary in MediaCorp’s ST Lite that “[S]ome may be tempted to link the large presence of foreign workers at Little India to the population augmentation strategy. Again, this is a far stretch. Foreign workers, on work permits, have been a presence in Singapore for decades. They are essential to the urban renewal effort in Singapore. Their numbers today are not much larger than the historical mean.”
The ex-cop obviously never studied maths at other than a very basic level. If he had, he would realise that using this “fact” would be an insult to the intelligence of more literate S’poreans. The “mean” especially the “historical mean” (whatever this means) is not an argument that one should use in dismissing that the argument of the growth of the FT population is a worry. Example: Isn’t the fact that 25% of the population is foreign a better indicator of anything to do with population than the “historic mean”?
***Given that S’poreans (even new citizens according to LKY) don’t want to breed babies. S’poreans prefer keeping dogs and cats, so much so that there is now a Minister for Pets.