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PM Lee says Singaporeans have taken Little India riot calmly – Channel News Asia

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PM Lee says Singaporeans have taken Little India riot calmly – Channel News Asia

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans have taken the riot at Little India peacefully and calmly, even though they are shocked by what happened, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Speaking to local media on Thursday at the end of his visit to South Korea, Mr Lee said Singapore has not had a riot for a long time, but now that it has happened, it is bad and has to be dealt with firmly.

Mr Lee said the authorities must make clear the riot is unacceptable and there is no reason or justification for people to behave in that way.

At the same time, he said it is important for Singaporeans to be fair to those who were not involved.

For those who have been charged, there has to be due process of the law, he added.

Prime Minister Lee noted that the anxiety and alarm among Singaporeans is understandable.

But he cautioned that if people expressed themselves in unreserved terms or sometimes xenophobic terms, even on the internet, that would be unhelpful.

Asked if the incident would impact on Singapore’s foreign worker policy, Mr Lee stressed that the country needs foreign workers.

He said if the country did not have them, the housing or public transport plans would not be achieved and Singaporeans would be severely affected.

What is needed is how to better manage them. Mr Lee said there are nearly one million foreign workers in Singapore and about 400 were involved in the riot.

He stressed that this was a specific circumstance, a localised riot — and those involved would be treated severely.

But for the other foreign workers who are making a contribution to the economy and who had nothing to do with the incident, Mr Lee said it would be quite unfair for Singaporeans to look at them and say that they are a problem.

He said the government cannot accept that, and that is not wise.

Mr Lee noted there has been a lot of interest internationally following the riot, as it was an unusual thing to happen in Singapore.

In fact, two Korean investors too had asked Mr Lee about the incident and they were very surprised and wanted his interpretation.

Prime Minister Lee said as this is significant news, the government must be very proper in its response, and Singaporeans too have to be very measured and responsible in their reactions as a people. 


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