Property, not human life, was in jeopardy on the night of the Dec 8 riot, said Committee of Inquiry (COI) chairman G. Pannir Selvam.
"On that day, it was not a life threatening situation. In other words, the rioters were not after the life of anybody," he said before a break during the public hearing on Tuesday. "What they were going to do is damage property... It was confined to property damage and not life damage."
The retired judge seemed to be clarifying comments made during the inquiry last week, when he told Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Lu Yeow Lim that "the loss of human life was not a priority, not on that day, in the circumstances of everything that has happened".
Mr Selvam added on Tuesday that there was "no evidence" of rioters wanting to kill somebody the night of the riot. COI member Andrew Chua also supported the chairman's argument, adding that since life was not an issue, the argument was whether more action should have been taken to prevent damage to property - which bore the brunt of violence that night.
"None of us, I think, are stupid enough to say that property is more important than life," said Mr Selvam.