Sunday, December 8, 2013

Singapore's foreign Indian sweatshop workers riot against the authorities

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In a rare riot in tightly controlled Singapore on December 09, 2013, a Sunday, badly treated underpaid Indian foreign workers have rioted, an almost unheard event in a strictly controlled regimented society,  causing extensive destruction and injury over a wide area.

Shops have been looted, police vehicles have been overturned and many police officers have been severely beaten and sent to the hospital. Although the apparent cause of the violence was a tour bus operator fatally running over an Indian national pedestrian before their very eyes, the real causes of the rioting are multitude including the very bad labor and living conditions under which they suffer. Indeed it probably was a result of pent up anger by all these poorly paid foreign workers who are paid pittance and required to live and work under appalling conditions while others live in luxury and drive around ensconced in their Mercedes Benzes.

Please see the state controlled newspaper Straits Times article of Dec 09, 2013 headed "Little India Riot: 27 nabbed; more expected to be arrested in "hours and days that follow""

Once again you can see the stupidity of this arrogant government in their response to the rioting. Instead of realizing the root cause of the unrest and trying to deal with their problems, they are in their expected arrogance proclaiming their intent to be as harsh as possible. 

The Prime Minister in his usual thuggish arrogance has said the incident was "very grave" and that "we will deal with them with the full force of the law".

As for the Assistant Prime Minister, Teo the side kick, we can see the same parroting of his master. He says "the government will not tolerate such behavior" meaning he is going to make sure his Kangaroo courts skin every one of these poor workers alive.

You can see the lack of foresight  of these million dollar ministers both before and after the rioting. They pay these foreign workers no more than Singapore $800 or so a month and house them in abominable conditions. In many cases their ethnic Chinese employers either don't pay them as required or pay them less or late. Naturally this causes resentment. Second, unlike in civilized countries they have to work up to 12 hours a day and only have one day off each week. Under these conditions it is not unreasonable that human beings would vent their resentment through violence. To make it worse they are not allowed to unionize or bargain for  fair living wage. They are completely at the mercy of their Singaporean employers. And if they complain, they are forthwith deported.

The other reason for expecting  these incidents to recur is the fact that on Sundays being their only day off, they congregate in their thousands within a small area of Little India to socialize with their fellow workers. It must be obvious to anyone that once such large numbers of unhappy underpaid workers are allowed to meet in close quarters, any such incident such as the fatal accident of their fellow countryman may trigger a violet reaction, such as this.

Instead of the government acting the bully and pulling the nails out of these poor disadvantaged workers whom they have arrested, they should instead find out what exactly was the cause of this from the bottom and solve it. Torturing them in custody as Adolf Hitler would his poor victims, is not going to prevent further riots.

You simply cannot run an island through terror, as Lee Kuan Yew's son is trying to do.

I expect further violence in the island. You have many Chinese nationals who are also being very badly treated not to mention Filipinos, Bangladeshis and a myriad of poor nationalities who struggle for a living under this uncaring one party police state.

I also expect local Singaporeans too taking to the streets to voice their unhappiness with the lack of rule of law, lack of fundamental human rights and their unhappiness in living in a severely controlled regimented society.

Personally I am against violence of any sort as it is usually counter productive. But human beings that we are, even the Mahatma Gandhi of the world have their limits of tolerance. 

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont California USA
Tel: 510 491 4375


Anonymous said...

According to your article in November 18th, last month, you did mention a full scale island wide racial riot could happen. your prediction is becoming a reality after reading the Little India riot incident.

Old Money Savoir Faire said...

"The full force of the law?!" These guys have some audacity, do they not? Perhaps they might consider a few geopolitical current facts before going around threatening people: such as their isolation in the middle of billions of muslims during the 'Arab Spring' while they spent the last decades in league with the IDF.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Indian workers for showing Singaporeans how to riot.

Anonymous said...

The President Scholars should have known better that this could happen. As Gopalan said, the workers live with so much frustration, stress, pent up anger that can't be bottled up for too long. I feel sorry for those who got hurt and violence is a bad thing but the authorities need to know that if they continue to operate like as if we are in the 1970s, they are misguided. The governance style must change, there is no other option. Don't live in denial.

Anonymous said...

Under the watch of Lee Kuan Yew's PM son, we have seen incidents that were unheard of for 20-30 years, such as MP being set on fire and Little India riots.

Now, the PAP govt are sitting ducks. With censorship on netizens and tight noose on the mass media, they have no idea why it happen.

Dr Chee in 2006? had warned of such events, but the PAP people probably laughed it off because they had created a docile population.

Anyone saw that happen, the riots?
Does the govt still care?

venkat said...

well said.. i personally know many friends who work whole 7 days for whole month without leaves...that too upto 12 hrs...

Anonymous said...

no dictatorship survives that long... only democracy prevails.. this is history. i m not living in singapore. But i visited some months back. I felt the racism going on. This is very bad. No country survives racism.