Security measures are reviewed at hot spots

Certis Cisco officers on patrol in Little India in 2014. More auxiliary police officers are deployed in Little India and Golden Mile on weekends and public holidays.
Certis Cisco officers on patrol in Little India in 2014. More auxiliary police officers are deployed in Little India and Golden Mile on weekends and public holidays. ST FILE PHOTO

From improved lighting to additional police cameras and auxiliary police officers, security measures at Little India and other foreign worker hot spots will continue to be reviewed to ensure there is no repeat of the 2013 riot.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee made this clear yesterday when he responded to Ms Denise Phua, who told the House that she noticed on a recent visit that foreign workers at Little India have returned to pre-riot numbers.

"Congregations of such high density are walking time-bombs and public disorder incidents waiting to happen," said the MP for Jalan Besar GRC, which includes Little India. "We want to protect our residents from the disamenities that arise from large gatherings of visitors, including foreign workers, in the communal areas, such as playgrounds, void decks and staircases.

"It is important that we do not take our eyes off this matter", lest history repeats itself.

She asked for a high-level multi- agency task force to look at security risks in Little India, suggested ring-fencing communal areas and building more recreation areas outside Little India.

In December 2013, a riot involving around 400 foreign workers broke out after an Indian construction worker was run over by a private bus.

It was the worst violence seen in more than 40 years here and led to alcohol restrictions and greater police control in the area.

Mr Lee said the ministry will continue to review its security measures, while working together with agencies, grassroots leaders, residents and business owners.

He added that more auxiliary police officers are deployed in Little India and Golden Mile on weekends and public holidays.

The Special Operations Command also conducts weekly anti- crime patrols.

An inter-ministerial committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has also looked at providing recreation centres located away from such hot spots to meet the social and recreational needs of foreign workers.

"The issues extend beyond safety and security concerns and include housing, transport and amenities," Mr Lee said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'Security measures are reviewed at hot spots'. Print Edition | Subscribe