Singapore responds to NY Times on Little India riot: Singapore’s Ambassador to the United States has responded to a New York Times editorial that claimed the Little India riot was caused by the frustration of Singapore’s migrant workers over their wages and living conditions.
The editorial was titled “Singapore’s Angry Migrant Workers” and published on December 28. It was reprinted in the International New York Times on December 30, said reports.
Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), in a strongly worded statement issued on Tuesday, said that Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri had responded to the NY Times a few days after the editorial was published, setting out the facts.
The MCI statement said that instead of publishing the Ambassador’s letter, the Times prevaricated and raised fresh objections each time previous objections were met, said reports.
The Times objected to the Ambassador saying it had in any way been mistaken in its facts, said the MCI statement.
The Times claimed that would render the letter a “correction”, which would then have to be cleared by a senior editor, and would not be publishable in the letter pages.
The MCI said the Times objected to the setting out of the facts as to who the rioters were, despite having not objected to this earlier. It also said the Times refused to allow the Ambassador to suggest the Times had been mistaken in its analysis of the riot’s causes.
The Ambassador had said in his letter that the Times editorial suggested that the 400 migrant workers had rioted because of frustration over their wages and living conditions, yet offered scant evidence for this claim.
The letter also pointed out that the rioters were employed by dozens of different employers and lived in different residential dormitories, yet the riots did not spread to dormitories, workplaces or any other location, but were localised to a congregation area for recreation.
The Ambassador argued that it was therefore most unlikely that the riots were motivated by the issues raised in the NY Times editorial.
He also noted in the letter that the government’s preliminary assessment was that the rioters had acted spontaneously, triggered by the fatal traffic accident.
The Ambassador explained in his letter that Singapore strives to make sure migrant workers are treated fairly and properly paid, and have laws that strictly deal with errant employers who ill-treat employees.
Survey consistently show that the vast majority of the its migrant workers in want to continue working in Singapore, it said.
The MCI statement said: “The New York Times, like any other newspaper, is entitled to express its own opinions.
“But when it suppresses rejoinders that express a contrary view, and show that the Times is mistaken, it gives the lie to its claim to champion freedom of speech and the truth.”