WHILE the Little India riot was caused by a confluence of factors, alcohol played a major role in the mayhem on Dec 8 last year, the final witness of the public hearing into the mayhem told the Committee of Inquiry (COI).
Lead investigator Adam Fashe Huddin said that evidence presented by different groups throughout the five-week inquiry – including the huge demand for alcohol before the riot, and that rioters were losing their balance and had smelt of alcohol – meant intoxication played a large role in the violence that night.
“It is apparent that beer bottles were the most common projectiles that night – alcohol bottles were literally raining down on police during a large part of the incident,” said Adam, who is from the Central Narcotics Bureau.
“The investigations team concludes that alcohol was a major contributory factor to how the riot unfolded.”
On the other hand, there was no evidence that the actions of the rioters arose from widespread abuse of foreign workers here or employment-related problems, said the senior narcotics officer.
None of the foreign workers who took the stand said their salary was delayed, and that the 20 men interviewed by the committee who were repatriated for their involvement in the riot said they were happy working here, and had “no deep-seated unhappiness”.
None of the men charged with being involved in the riot said late salary was to blame, he added.
The observations that Adam placed before the committee included extending the Little India Bus Services to Sunday mornings and Saturdays, so as to spread the load of workers who visit the Indian enclave on the weekend, and extra police manpower to deal with potential hotspots like Geylang.
There should also be more sensitivity training for bus drivers and timekeepers plying the Little India route, while more focus has to be given to educating foreign workers here on local norms and the heavy penalties that accompany anti-social behaviour like urinating and vomiting. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network