Monday, December 09, 2013

Little India Riot in Singapore

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scene of destruction in the aftermath of a riot in Little India

Around 11 pm on 8 December, I was preparing for bed when text messages about a riot in Little India came in fast and furious. I went online to find out if the rumours were true. My husband and I stayed up until 2 in the early hours of Monday morning for a news conference updates.

Singapore saw its first major riot in 40 years on Sunday. I am still in shock and feeling very sad that this is happening in peaceful Singapore.

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The riot was sparked off by a fatal accident involving a 33-year-old Indian national Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu (aged 33) who was knocked down by a private bus. He has been working in Singapore for the past two years as a construction worker with scaffolding company Heng Hup Soon.

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400 people rioted. They threw glass bottles, railings and whatever they could find on the streets at officers. Yet police officers exercised restraint and did not fire a single shot throughout the incident to prevent the incident from escalating further.

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The rioters smashed vehicles with bottles, sticks, metal poles and garbage bins. They flipped several police cars and set fire to an ambulance. Many other private cars were also damaged as well.

Watching the rioters smashed and then flipped the police cars one by one, I worried for the police officers inside the vehicles.  

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Some 300 police officers were deployed to the site after trouble broke out. Police also activated resources from Special Operations Command and Gurkha Contingent to the scene. The riot was quelled in under two hours.

More than 20 people including the 55-year-old Singaporean bus driver and his assistant were injured in the riot. Several SCDF officers, 22 police officers and 5 Auxilliary Police Officers were hurt and sought treatment at the hospital. Seven are in hospital and most of them are in a stable condition.

27 suspects, aged 23 to 45, have been arrested in connection with the rioting incident. Out of the 27 subjects, 24 are Indian nationals, 2 are Bangladeshi nationals and 1 is a Singaporean Permanent Resident. I expect more rioters will be arrested in the coming days.

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Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee, DPM Teo Chee Hean, S Iswaran and T Raja Kumar

Responding to questions from reporters at a news conference, Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee said: "Wanton violence, rioting, destruction of property, fighting the police is not the Singapore way and the police will spare no effort, first to identify, and then we will find and then we will arrest and then we will prosecute everyone who was involved in yesterday's violence. You can take that as a guarantee from the police and as assurance to all Singaporeans and also residents who live in Little India."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "I want to make very clear that the government will not tolerate such lawless behaviour. I have asked the police to investigate the matter thoroughly and deal with all aspects of this incident and all persons involved strictly, firmly and fairly according to our law."

Police are appealing for anyone with photos and videos of the riot at Race Course Road to submit them via or

To our Home team - Thanks!! You've done a great job. Wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.

Photo credits : CNA, SPH, SPF


  1. I've heard about it, now looking at these photos, it seems very terrible!!

    1. It was scary. We sat glued to the TV and internet for updates. We were told to stay away from the affected area. Seeing the violence on our screen, we worried for the police officers and ambulance crew.

  2. Because an Indian worker was knocked down by a bus ? That's terrible that it caused such a riot ! I don't understand, these people must have waited for an occasion to burst out like that ! sometimes a little fire causes a big burning !

    1. Yes, it started because an Indian worker was knocked down by a bus. Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour.

  3. Such reckless violence will surely not be tolerated by lovely Singapore, hope peace settles back really soon.

  4. It's a shame that this is happening in Singapore. I didn't expect this to happen at all.

    1. It's a shame this happened. It's a shame some people resorted to riots, be it in Singapore or anywhere else, for that matter. :(

  5. They must be submitted to the full force of the law! If not...they might get worse. :(

  6. I was shocked to when I saw TV news about riot in Singapore

  7. Please take care. I can't believe that this happened in safe Singapore.

  8. Very sorry about the riot. Be safe. Re. your comment on fullTime-Life, Florida is actually sub-tropical, very different from the rest of the US (that is why we are here in the winter...we don't like to be cold).

  9. Oh heard about the news.... so sorry to hear that and yea, kinda shock for that to happen in Sg... wouldn't surprise if its in Msia though... Anyway, polices in Sg did a great job, I doubt Malaysian police officers will hold their fire since they just like to throw whatever weapons they have to others :p