Posted on December 9, 2013

Hundreds of Foreign Workers Torch Cars and Attack Police in Singapore Riot

Becky Evans, Daily Mail (London), December 9, 2013

Hundreds of foreign workers set fire to cars and clashed with police during a riot in Singapore tonight.

The disorder, which is rare in the city state, broke out in Singapore’s Little India district after an Indian worker was reportedly hit and killed by a bus.

It is believed to be the worst outbreak of violence in Singapore for 40 years.

Ten police officers were injured as about 400 people rioted, flipping police cars and smashing ambulances with sticks and garbage bins.

Witness Dharmendra Yadav, told Channel News Asia that at least two vehicles were on fire, and that rubbish and broken bottles were strewn on the streets.

He said he and many others were in a nearby Hindu temple attending a wedding when police called asking that the gates be locked until officers gave them clearance to leave.

He said: ‘We heard explosions. We also heard warnings from riot police.’

Footage on Channel News Asia showed at least two vehicles on fire and debris strewn across Racecourse Road, one of the main thoroughfares in Little India. Many other private cars were reported to have been damaged as well.

Singapore Police Force said the riot started after a fatal traffic accident.

‘Shortly after, a riot broke out involving a crowd of about 400 subjects where the subjects damaged five police vehicles and one ambulance,’ it said in a statement.

Incidents like this are rare in Singapore, which has tough laws on rioting that carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison and possible caning.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that ‘whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour, according to ABC.

‘This is a serious incident which has resulted in injuries and damage to public property,’ said Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs. ‘Police will spare no efforts to apprehend the subjects involved in the riot.’

The area is popular among Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Nepali expatriates and is usually busy on Sundays as South Asian workers enjoy their day off.

The violence is likely to fuel concerns about discontent among low-paid foreign workers.

Last year Singapore saw its biggest outbreak of labour unrest in years when around 170 bus drivers from mainland China went on strike illegally.

Police brought the riot under control at about 1am on Monday morning, local time.