PM Lee orders Committee of Inquiry on Little India riot

Elena Torrijos

[UPDATE Monday, 9 December, 6:50pm: Adding PM Lee and Workers' Party latest reax.]

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has ordered a Committee of Inquiry (COI) to look into the Little India riot that happened on Sunday night.

"The COI will review the factors that led to the incident, how the incident was handled, and how we manage areas where foreign workers congregate," he explained in a  Facebook post on Monday evening.

PM Lee also said that the Little India riot, which was triggered after a fatal accident involving an Indian national, was an isolated incident caused by an unruly mob, and that the vast majority of foreign workers here obey the laws.

He urged the public to not let the incident tarnish their perception on foreign workers here or condone hateful or xenophobic comments -- especially those online.

In the early hours of 9 December, PM Lee had also on Facebook condemned the rare riot that broke out in Singapore's Little India district late Sunday night, saying there was "no excuse" for the incident".

"Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour," Lee said.

"We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law," he added.

Saying it was a "grave incident", he noted that several police officers were injured and vehicles were damaged or destroyed.

The Workers' Party also urged the government to look into the "underlying causes" of the riot so as to address and prevent future recurrences, in its media statement also released on Monday afternoon.

It also urged  members of the public to refrain from speculation and unnecessary accusations while the Police is investigating the matter.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam also voiced his deep concern, on a post on his Facebook page, over the incident too.

He said, "Like all Singaporeans, I was deeply concerned by the violence in Little India last night.

"People were injured, including those who acted in the line of duty. They and all the other members of our Home Team put themselves at risk to uphold the law and order that we often take for granted."

He added that "We should not let a single incident such as this undermine confidence in our society. Instead, let us redouble our commitment to keeping Singapore safe, peaceful and strong."

According to police, the rioting broke out after a fatal traffic accident involving a bus occurred at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road at 9:23pm Sunday.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said that paramedics who arrived in the area saw a man trapped under the bus. They pronounced him dead at the scene.

The man who died was a 33-year-old Indian national and construction worker called Sakthivel Kumaravelu.

Projectiles were then thrown at rescuers who were trying to extricate the body using hydraulic equipment.

A total of 18 people, including four of its personnel, were sent to hospital and nine SCDF vehicles were damaged as a result, SCDF said.

Related links:

Fatal accident sparks angry night riot in Little India
Cars burnt in Singapore's Little India as workers riot
Singapore hit by rare outbreak of rioting