I Wanna Riot...In Singapore [?!]

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 12/10/2013 08:37:00 AM
@#$% the Police, Singapore Edition
Singapore has acquired a reputation for being squeaky-clean to the point of being antiseptic. It is particularly famous for two things in this respect: banning bubble gum in public that can litter surroundings and caning juvenile delinquents alike the Yankee brat kid Michael Fay [whappack!] In reality, though, there are tensions bubbling under the carefully stage-managed facade. There were race riots between ethnic Chinese and Malays in 1964 and 1969 whose records time has not erased. In their wake, Singapore has been at pains to level the playing field for all three major ethnic groups (including those of Indian ethnic descent) by, for instance, having a more diverse civil service, but things are never quite perfect.

Like many Asian nations, Singapore is highly inequitable and is becoming more and more so. Its Gini coefficient stands at 0.478. At the same time, the locals' very low birth rate results in few Singaporeans left to do blue-collar jobs...such as construction. Hence the elements for this year's sudden outburst as an Indian migrant construction worker was struck down by a wayward bus, resulting in that ever-so-rare event: a riot in Singapore.
A crowd of about 400 foreign workers, angered by a fatal road accident, set fire to vehicles and attacked police and emergency services workers late Sunday in Singapore's ethnic Indian district, injuring at least 18 people in a rare riot in the city-state

Police and eyewitnesses say the riot, the first major outburst of public violence here in more than four decades, started at about 9:23 p.m. local time (1323 GMT) after a bus hit and killed an unnamed 33-year-old Indian man in the Little India neighborhood, prompting large groups of South Asian workers to attack the bus with sticks and garbage bins.

Authorities quelled the violence before 11 p.m. after deploying 300 police officers to the scene, including its riot-control squad and Gurkha unit, police officials said in a news briefing early Monday, adding that officers didn't use any firearms to end the riot...

Police officials said 10 officers were hurt, none seriously, while the bus driver involved in the fatal accident—a Singaporean—was hospitalized. Five vehicles were burned—including three police vehicles, an ambulance and a motorcycle, the Civil Defense Force said. Several other vehicles—including police, civil defense, and privately owned cars—also were damaged, officials said...
The role of migrant workers has come under scrutiny:
The riot has sparked concerns of festering unrest amid the large foreign workforce, numbering about 1.3 million as of June, in this island state of 5.3 million people. In recent years, some foreign laborers—particularly low-pay unskilled workers in construction—have resorted to protests against alleged exploitation by employers, including a rare and illegal strike last year by about 170 public-bus drivers hired from China.
There is also, unfortunately, an element of racial profiling
Even so, police would "pay extra attention not just to Little India, but also to foreign-worker dormitories and known places of congregation, moving forward," Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee said at the briefing. Police officials said they were treating the incident as a case of "rioting with dangerous weapons," an offense that carries penalties including up to 10 years' jail, as well as caning.
Good ol' caning; would this be Singapore without it? Yes, Singapore is highly inequitable, but its claim to fame has been different races living in relative harmony in recent years. I guess the seams are beginning to show once more as inequality becomes more evident based on racial differences. Then again, demographic realities probably mean that flashpoints of this sort will continue to occur in the near future, especially as income and racial divides reinforce each other.

This ain't Disneyland, folks.

UPDATE: Racial profiling in "Little India" is not new, and these events may further inflame matters.