The riots that convulsed Little India late in 2013 are still leaving an indelible mark. While the chaotic disturbances were brought under control by a controlled police response, the repercussions of the ugly scenes are lasting considerably longer.
Singapore is certainly not used to such civil disobedience. The whole situation was prompted when an Indian migrant worker was struck and killed by a bus. Crowds of his fellow construction workers, many of whom had been drinking for some time, appear to have used the tragic accident as an excuse to cause wanton mayhem on the streets of Singapore. Some of them began throwing missiles at the police who had gathered to try and defuse the situation. In the ensuing riots, several police cars and an ambulance were set alight.
Order was restored, with many Singaporeans left baffled by the unexpected outbreak of violence that had occurred in the heart of their normally peace-loving city. It is testament to the resolve of Singapore's citizens that the streets were cleared of debris very swiftly and the shops which had been affected by the rioting opened for business the following day.
All the media reporting on the events were unanimous in their verdict that this was, in all likelihood, a unique incident. However, the authorities have let it be known that they are determined to get to the root of what prompted a section of Singapore society to act in this way. After all, the Indian migrant community are not exactly strangers to the city; many of these workers have been living in Singapore for a long time, having been made more than welcome for the skills they continue bringing to the city. The degree of their integration has, until now, been taken for granted.
The Singapore government have decided to appoint a special committee to investigate the riots that occurred in Little India. This committee of inquiry has been instigated due to the levels of violence experienced on Singapore streets – estimated to be the worst case of rioting since 1969.
Teo Chee Hean, Home Affairs Minister, set up the four-man committee, with orders to report their findings within six months. It has also been announced that the chairman of the investigatory committee will be a former judge of Singapore's Supreme Court, G Pannir Selvam. The members acting alongside him will be an ex-police commissioner, Tee Tu Bia, a former trade union president, John De Pavya, and a citizens committee consultant, Andrew Chua Thiam Chwee.