By Gordon Lee
It has been a week since the riots in Little India rocked Singapore. And the actions of the Government have been carefully planned in order to keep up appearances of Singapore being an orderly and peaceful country which is different from the “decadent West”. After all, it is politically convenient all these whilst for the people to believe that riots only happen in countries where the population have too much freedom.
First, the state media decided to report on the nationalities of the rioters – saying that it was “South Asian” individuals who were involved . Not that nationality or residence is of any relevance here. But of course, like all authoritarian regimes throughout history, it is tempting for the Government to blame “foreign elements” for any disorder. This maintains the fairy tale of a benevolent Government serving a grateful population who would have no cause to create any trouble.
Next, the Government recognised that somebody and something needed to take the blame for the riots. The somebody would be the individuals charged in court with the “full force of the law”, and that something would be “alcohol”. There is doubt in my mind that drunk individuals would be able to walk in a straight line, let alone overturn police cars. Yet, the Government has to maintain their “island story” narrative that sober individuals of this country would never have such immense grouses that they needed to resort to violent means.
Finally, the Law minister decided to conduct the charade of visiting foreign worker dormitories and asking if they “blame the government” . The response was, as one might expect, a ubiquitous “no”, thus prompting the headlines “Workers: Govt not at fault”. The intention of the Government is very clear, to conveniently ignore and not address any deep seated issues (there is no smoke without fire) that have been raised throughout the years.
Hence, what we witness in the aftermath of the riots is a carefully staged response by the Government that asks the wrong questions, ignores the real issues, and that maintains the fiction of a content population who desire security over all else.