Singapore PM: 1st priority find cause of Little India riot – Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday said the Committee of Inquiry’s first priority is to find the cause of the Little India riot, before the broader issues of whether social or population policies need to be re-thought can be addressed, according to reports.
He also said one priority now is to make sure a similar incident does not occur again.
“I think we deal with… what led to the riot and then the broader issues we can argue and debate,” the prime minister told reporters, adding that the issues of Singapore’s social and population policies must be dealt with separately.
“I do not accept that we must straight away ask whether fundamental approaches or the whole way our society is organised needs to be re-thought immediately,” he said.
Mr. Lee said one lesson Singaporeans can learn from the December 8 riot is that such incidents can break out in a stable society, and that it is important to have a well-trained Home Team that can deal with such a situation in a measured and decisive way.
The prime minister was speaking to reporters after spending more than an hour listening to the dramatic accounts of 38 officers who were the first responders at the scene of the riot that night, which involved some 300 foreign workers of mostly South Asian origin.
Mr. Lee commended the officers for doing a good job, as they got the chance to tell him what they went through the night of the riot.
The prime minister sat among the officers, listening and questioning every one of them as they told their personal story about what they experienced that night.
They told him about being hit by projectiles – rocks, beer bottles, bricks, or anything the mob could get their hands on.
They also spoke of being afraid for their lives.
Some told him of being attacked as they tried to extricate the body of the Indian national who was hit by the bus – the incident that sparked the riot.
As they attempted to transport the deceased from under the bus to the ambulance, some in the angry mob came forward, pushing and shoving the paramedic team and the officers, and hitting them with their bare hands, commander of the paramedic team reportedly said.
As the officers tried to get the bus drivers and assistant, the people in the mob were throwing projectiles at them from all directions, but they continued to carry on with their duties.
They also told stories of courage as officers moved in to protect each other.
They told of being afraid, but still feeling protected knowing their men were around them.
Riot police officers from the Special Operations Command unit soon arrived on the scene, and even the K-9 unit.
They said they knew if something happened to them, the others would pull them out of the scene.