Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Singapore Little India Riots. Police detain and question 3,700 Indian nationals to charge 30 in court

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On December 8, 2013 in Little India, an area in Singapore some Indian nationals rioted after one of their fellow men was run over and killed by a bus in front of them. They were also probably unhappy with their meager pay and miserable working conditions causing them to riot.

But what is shocking is the fact that they in fact detained and interrogated no less than 3,700, according to the state controlled press in the island, mostly Indian nationals to investigate this riot. And obviously most of them were innocent and had nothing to do with the riot, since only 30 of them were charged, their names having been chosen at random by the police from government work permit records.

This sort of random arbitrary police action against masses of innocent individuals is a clear violation of police powers, not tolerated by any civilized society. The right of the police to investigate crimes does not override the citizen's right to privacy and be free from unlawful searches and seizures. There has to be probable cause before you demand that someone appear before you to be interrogated. Here there was none. You simply cannot go on a fishing expedition, as in this case of rounding up 3,700 people! Only in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore.

This is a clear violation of the privacy rights of people as well as their right to be free from arbitrary and unlawful searches and seizures. If this is allowed, there is no question that it is nothing short of a police state permitting the questioning and search of anyone anytime they please.

Outraged by this police unashamed high handedness, complaints have been lodged by a Human Rights organization called Workfair Singapore that many innocent people among the 3,700, who were asked to report to Police headquarters and beaten up to extract confessions. The Deputy Police Commissioner has confirmed that complaints have been lodged and he is investigating.

No civilized society allows it's police to detain and question anyone they want to investigate crime. Toa Payoh is a housing estate of several housing blocks. Are the police saying that in order to investigate a case of theft in a flat in the area, they have a right to to round up hundreds of thousands of residents in the entire housing estate interrogate and beat up some of them, in the name of crime investigation?

By their rounding up as many as 3,700 people of Indian descent in Singapore, are they also saying that they could stop anyone along the street simply because he looks Indian (since Indians rioted) and bring him in for questioning?

What are they anyway, the Gestapo?

There is no doubt about it, Singapore is plain and simple a police state. The police in Singapore can simply do anything they want. On the claim that they are investigating crime, they can, under Singapore's laws stop and question anyone, demand that they attend at police headquarters for questioning and simply beat you up as well if they choose.

There should be no surprise, given the police's unlimited powers, why thousands and thousands of good educated people are leaving Singapore's shores for settlement in the West preferring to live in a free society under rule of law. And it should be no surprise why people around the world are not making a beeline to apply for settlement in North Korea or to Singapore if you had any choice.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525


Anonymous said...

Activists are criticising Singapore for planning to deport dozens of South Asian labourers involved in a rare riot without giving them their day in court.

Anonymous said...

Time for Chinese-led Singapore to review how it treats its foreign workers? By Siva Sankar

You can contact the journalist here:

and tell him about LKY's courts, police and racist policies.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is not a party to the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families(ICRMW) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,Inhuman or Degrading Treatment(CAT). The Special Rapporteurs for these Conventions have mandate which covers all countries irrespective whether the state has ratified these Conventions(see( Singapore claims that even though it is not a party to a particular Treaty, nevertheless its policies are already in compliance with their provisions( see document A/HRC/18/11/Add.1). However the arbitrary detention of 3700 Indian Migrant Workers tells a different story. ICRMW(see above) grants migrant workers a series of human rights in Articles 8 to 35 to all migrant workers and their families. Notable ones in this context are: Art 16(4) prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention individually or collectively, Art 10 they shall not be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman degrading treatment, Art 16(2) requires the host State to protect migrant workers from violence,physical injury,threats and intimidation.,Art 22 states that they shall not be subject to collective expulsion.The Convention Against Torture(see above) prohibits torture and all forms of ill treatment(amounting to torture) to be inflicted on any person by or with consent or acquiscence of state authorities for the purpose of gaining information,punishment or intimidation. Torture carries universal jurisdiction. Torture is so heinous that it is a crime against the international community. That means ,generally, victims of torture can seek to have perpetrators of torture present or visiting a country that has ratified the Convention Against Torture, to be arrested(see The victim of torture will have lodge a complaint with the prosecutor in the country in which the perpetrator is present or visiting.The victim will need the assistance of a human rights organisation in that country(see internet for details for human rights organisations).If you are a victim or relative or friend of victim of arbitrary arrest and detention and have been subjected to torture,violence,physical injury, threats and intimidation. And local legal remedies are not available or are not effective or are not adequate, then you should write to the two Special Rappoteurs to take urgent action. You will need to include as much details as follows: victims full name, date of birth,occupation,nationality,passport number(if available), residential/workplace address. Date & place of initial arrest /detention. Identity of (police ,para military etc) carrying out initial arrest. Identity of forces carrying out torture.Were any person such as lawyer, relatives or friends permitted to see the victim .Describe method of torture /ill treatment. Injuries sustained by the victim. Whether any medical attention and treatment by a Doctor?.During detention were any legal remedies available or adequate or effective. The person writing the letter will need to supply name and address etc. If you fear victimisation then say so and ask for your details to be kept confidential. The contact details for Special Rapporteurs can be found at are e -mail details(1) Mr Francois Crepeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, e-mail: urgent-action@ohchr or
(2) Mr Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, or
For postal address for both Special Rapporteurs check Apologies for any typing errors.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said

"Singapore is not a party to the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers"

Thanks for the information. May I say in addition, other than relying on the UN to help you, which very often they cannot, Singaporeans who care for their country should protest within Singapore and demand justice, with whatever help from the UN of course.