By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the articles “Little India Riot: 27 nabbed; More expected to be arrested in ‘hours and days that follow’” and “27 suspects from South Asia arrested in connection with the Little India riot“ (Straits Times, Dec 9).
The latter article states that “no Singaporean was believed to have been involved in the riot, adding that destruction of property and fighting the police is not the Singapore way” and the former said “Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour.
The incident came as a surprise to many, because not since the racial riots in Singapore in 1964, have the police been activated to respond to such unrest. Said 19-year-old polytechnic student Jovial Ng who lives on Buffalo Road: “We studied about the Maria Hertogh riots in social studies but we never expected to witness anything like this in real life.””
An “accident waiting to happen”?
According to http://www.english-idioms.
Was the riot an accident that was waiting to happen?
“Prevention better than cure”?
We should try to examine and analyse as to what may have caused or contributed to this occurrence, with a view to preventing it from happening again – “prevention is better than cure”?
Foreign workers treated “unfairly”?
When there may be hundreds of thousands of disgruntled low-wage foreign workers who paid as much as $9,000 to come to Singapore to work – only to discover that the pay, working and living conditions promised to them were very different?
Exploitation of workers?
In this connection, on the same day (8 December), I had just written an article, “The alternative news in 1 day? (part 4) about how “We may arguably, have become a nation renowned for the exploitation of foreign and low-wage Singaporean workers … Since he was earning $13 a day or about $400 a month about 31 years ago, and I understand that construction workers are now being paid as little as $18 a day – the pay may have decreased in real terms by about 22 per cent after 31 years”.
Plight of injured foreign workers?
When hundreds of injured workers waiting for their claims for compensation have to survive on free food provided by NGOs everyday?
In this connection, I had just written an article, “The alternative news in 1 day? (part 3)” 2 days ago – “So, how do we explain that for years and even now, hundreds of injured foreign workers awaiting the compensation claim process, have to rely on free food everyday provided by NGOs, and sleep along the corridors outside shop houses, like the homeless? … “will take action against employers who fail to fulfil their responsibilities” – how many employers have been prosecuted for this, in the last year and the last 3 years? why don’t the MOM just go to the place where hundreds of injured workers queue every day for free food, with a card given to them by NGOs, to solve this problem which has been highlighted and going on for years?”
Aggrieved workers need help?
When disgruntled and aggrieved workers have apparently, no practical effective avenues to turn to, to voice and seek redress for their grievances? – Remember the bus drivers’ strike over pay and living conditions, and the 2 workers’ who climbed the cranes over their pay dispute? (“Helping desperate workers: Stranger than fiction? (Part 2)“, Dec 9, 2012 – almost exactly 1 year before the riot now)
No pay slips?
When we can’t even require such a simple thing as having employers issue a pay slip to workers – without which it may be quite difficult for workers to proof that they have been underpaid? (Which I wrote about last month -”3,000% increase in CPF arrears?: Sleeping giant awakens?“.
Treat workers fairly and pay a decent wage?
We should address all the simmering issues about treating workers fairly and arguably the widespread exploitation of low-wage workers (having a very low wage which may have hardly increased in real terms for about a decade may arguably be, a form of exploitation in itself) in Singapore – before the next “accident waiting to happen”?