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Little India Riot: Political office-holders urge calm in Facebook posts

Published on Dec 9, 2013 11:56 AM
In the wake of Sunday night's riot in Little India, the Prime Minister, the President (above) and other political office-holders have taken to Facebook to urge calm and reassure the public that justice will be done. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

In the wake of Sunday night's riot in Little India, the President, Prime Minister and other political office-holders have taken to Facebook to urge calm and reassure the public that justice will be done.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam wrote: "Like all Singaporeans, I was deeply concerned by the violence in Little India last night."

He noted that members of the Home Team were among the injured, having "put themselves at risk to uphold the law and order that we often take for granted."

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

Calling the riot "a very grave incident," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote: "Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour. We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law."

"I urge all Singaporeans to stay calm," he added, in his post just before 3am on Monday. He asked that the public send the police any information, photos or videos of the incident, and also wished the injured officers "a full and speedy recovery."

Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran, who visited the scene of the incident at 1am on Monday, posted that police are monitoring the situation in foreign worker dormitories and where foreign workers gather.

He stressed that foreign workers here "are by and large, law abiding individuals who are here to earn a living and to support their families in their home countries."

"This incident is the the result of the unlawful actions of some individuals" and such lawless behaviour will not be tolerated, added Mr Iswaran, who is also a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Trade and Industry.

He urged Singaporeans to "to remain calm, not react to speculation or rumours, and allow the police investigations to establish the facts."

Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim urged residents and businesses in Little India "to go on with their lives and businesses as normal, as the Police work hard to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Like Mr Iswaran, he too asked Singaporeans to remember that foreign workers here are largely law-abiding people. "It is a delicate and on-going effort to take care of the concerns of the residents and manage the needs of the foreign workers," said Dr Yaacob, who is an MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC under which the Little India area falls.

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, called on the public to show support for frontline officers, and not to spread rumours - especially those "with racial undertones,"

"We should speak out against riot as a matter of principle but should not stoke anti-foreigners sentiments," he added.

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said citizens should "continue with our daily lives, and demonstrate resilience in upholding our Singaporean way of life."

"Avoid spreading misinformation and rumours, and keep xenophobia and racial remarks out of the conversation," he wrote. "We have sacrificed much to achieve peace and harmony in Singapore, and must never allow this to be compromised or taken for granted."

Making similar calls was Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who made several Facebook posts late on Sunday night, urging Singaporeans to stay calm, not to speculate, and to avoid making racial comments.

In a 1.40am post on Monday, he wrote: "Keep calm and encourage all Singaporeans to not add to the emotional climate. Our officers from our Home Team continue to have to maintain peace and stability in the days ahead."