It wasn’t very long ago that we witnessed the first mass industrial action (aka strike) after decades of relative industrial peace, when a group of PRC Chinese bus drivers of the SMRT took unilateral action to strike by refusing to report for work one morning. Next, it was reported that another group of foreign workers, this time from India, at the site of a construction project, threatening to down tools over grievances of a pay dispute with their employer.
The Little India riot on the night of 8 December 2013, is really another variant of the truism that ‘while you can take a foreigner out of his country, you cannot take the country out of him’. I have touch on this in an earlier post. The riot is also a ‘first’ after decades of being free from mass street violence. It was so long ago when the streets of Singapore was last shook by a mass street unrest that even the current Singapore Police Commissioner and his deputy had difficulty recalling the date of the last street riot! According to a Mediacorp news report, it was 4 decades ago that it last happened.
Then there were a number of cases recently where taxi drivers became victims of violence inflicted by foreign passengers. Such occurrences were rare even virtually unheard of until then.
So, indeed, when we freely allow the mass importation of cheap, as well as not so cheap, foreign labour, we are in effect also allowing into our midst a lot of the undesirable and deleterious aspects of their societies into our midst as well. This happens once their numbers and presence here have grown into a critical mass for their respective mob culture mentality back home to surface in given circumstances. The fatal traffic accident at the junction of Racecourse Road and Hampshire Road is one such catalyst!
This case should be enough food for thought for the govt. What would come up next? What can be done to pre-empt a repeat in whatever context and by whatever catalyst the next time?
It is quite clear from the fact that most of the property damage sustained were by public service vehicles – police cars and SCDF vehicles – and that the vast majority of the injured were public servants -10 police officers and four SCDF personnel, in the course of duty, out of 18 taken to hospital – points clearly to the fact that the energy and resentment released during the riot was directed at the authorities, ultimately, the govt. Only four other casualties were civilians, including the bus driver involved in the accident, that triggered the crowd of mostly Indian nationals to go berserk, some probably helped by Dutch courage from alcoholic drinks.