Little India Riot: One Year Later - Timeline: The night of the riot and its aftermath

One of the vehicles which were torched during the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year. A mob of about 400 people had turned violent and attacked emergency vehicles responding to a fatal accident. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
One of the vehicles which were torched during the Little India riot on Dec 8 last year. A mob of about 400 people had turned violent and attacked emergency vehicles responding to a fatal accident. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Dec 8, 2013

  • 9.17pm: Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu, a 33-year-old construction worker from Chennai, India, employed by scaffolding company Heng Hup Soon, boards a private bus back to his dormitory in Jalan Papan. Some workers in line complain to timekeeper Wong Geck Woon that he is drunk and has jumped the queue.
  • 9.18pm: Madam Wong boards the bus and sees that Mr Sakthivel has dropped his bermuda shorts. She asks him to alight. He does so voluntarily, without being pushed or manhandled.
  • 9.20pm: The bus moves off slowly, at 4.2kmh. Mr Sakthivel keeps pace for 11 seconds, but trails behind as the bus speeds up. He starts chasing after the bus in an unsteady manner, catching up when the bus slows down as it approaches the stop line at the junction between Tekka Lane and Race Course Road.
  • 9.21pm: Mr Sakthivel places his right hand on the side of the bus. As the bus turns into Race Course Road, he falls and is run over.
  • 9.23pm: Police receive a call saying "A bus has knocked down someone here. Ambulance required."
  • 9.25pm: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) is alerted.
  • 9.31pm: The first SCDF ambulance arrives.
  • 9.37pm: First two police officers arrive. A group of 100 people has surrounded the bus.
  • 9.39pm: SCDF red rhino fire engine arrives.
  • 9.40pm: Assistant Superintendent of Police Jonathan Tang arrives.
  • 9.45pm: ASP Tang radios Tanglin Police Division to request assistance from the Special Operations Command (SOC), whose officers are trained to handle riots. By now, the mob has swelled to about 400 people.
  • 9.51pm: Combined Operations Room seeks approval from the covering director of operations, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Koh Wei Keong, to activate SOC. He asks for more information on the situation.
  • 9.54pm: Mr Sakthivel's body is extricated from beneath the bus by SCDF officers. The sight of his mangled body further riles the mob, which by then has started pelting emergency first responders with drain covers, concrete blocks and beer bottles. More police officers arrive.
  • 10.03pm: DAC Koh approves the request to activate SOC.
  • 10.04pm: The first Police Tactical Troop, call sign PTT KA, from the SOC is activated. Its members start moving to Little India from South Bridge Road, where they had been performing counter-terrorism security patrols nearby.
  • 10.08pm: SCDF officers locate bus driver Lee Kim Huat and Madam Wong, who are taking cover from the rioters in the bus. The police later use shields to protect the two as they are escorted to safety by the SCDF.
  • 10.15pm: A second troop, call sign PTT KG, is activated.
  • 10.24pm: DAC Lu Yeow Lim, commander of Tanglin Police Division, orders all available resources to the scene. Minutes later, rioters start flipping police vehicles and setting them on fire.
  • 10.42pm: The PTT KA, which was hit by traffic snarls, arrives at the scene. It forms a cordon across Race Course Road to contain the rioters. Its tactical vehicles play dispersal warnings in various languages, including English and Tamil, at the rioters.
  • 10.48pm: PTT KG arrives and takes up position near the junction of Hampshire Road and Race Course Road.
  • 10.54pm: SOC troops are given the green light to use hand-held tear gas sprays in close engagements with rioters. These are not used.
  • 11.25pm: The last group of rioters is dispersed.
  • 11.45pm: High-visibility patrols are deployed to prevent rioters from regrouping.

Dec 9, 2013

  • 12.01am: Investigations at the scene commence.
  • 12.39am: Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean arrives with Deputy Commissioner of Police T. Raja Kumar.
  • 5.08am: Clean-up of the area begins as site investigations are completed.
  • 6.45am: Race Course Road is passable to traffic.

The aftermath

Dec 13, 2013

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean convenes Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the riot.

The committee comprises retired Supreme Court judge G. Pannir Selvam as chairman, as well as former police commissioner Tee Tua Ba, former NTUC president John De Payva and Mr Andrew Chua, chairman of the West Coast Citizens' Consultative Committee.

Dec 14

No alcohol allowed to be sold or consumed in a blanket ban within a 1.1 sq km zone declared a "proclaimed area" under the Public Order (Preservation) Act (Popa).

Private bus services stopped.

Dec 18

The Government announces relaxation of blanket alcohol ban.

On weekends, public holidays and the eves of public holidays, restaurants and businesses with public house and beer house licences are allowed to sell alcohol but cannot let customers consume the drinks outside their premises.

Convenience and liquor stores can sell alcohol on a takeaway basis between 6am and 8pm.

The Land Transport Authority announces shorter hours for private bus services, which will end at 9pm instead of 11pm.


Prosecutors proceed on charges against 25 Indian nationals for their involvement in the riot. Another 57 - all Indian nationals except for one Bangladeshi - are deported with stern warnings and banned from entering Singapore.

A further 213 are given police advisories and are allowed to continue working here.

Feb 18, 2014

Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Bill (POATM) is passed in Parliament.

It gives the police powers to interview and search people in the area for alcohol and prohibited items.

It also limits the sale and consumption of alcohol.

Six of the 16 MPs who spoke opposed the Bill as a knee-jerk reaction, lacking safeguards, and too broad. But they are in general agreement that an appropriate response is needed to maintain peace in the neighbourhood.

Feb 19, 2014

COI public hearings start, featuring 93 witnesses over 24 days.

April 1, 2014

POATM takes effect. It replaces the Popa, and is valid for one year until March 31, 2015.

June 27, 2014

The COI submits its report to DPM Teo. The report is released to the public three days later.