Singaporeans are shell-shocked and saddened by the riot in Little India involving about 400 people ("Riot breaks out in Little India"; Monday). We have not witnessed such unruly and violent actions since the racial riots in 1969.
This incident has seriously tarnished our reputation as an orderly and peaceful country.
While it is premature to speculate on the triggers of the incident, I am sure the police will use all necessary resources to identify and track down the culprits. They should be severely punished in accordance with our laws.
Meanwhile, online forums are swamped with heated rhetoric and inflammatory remarks. The reaction is understandable but I urge fellow Singaporeans to exercise maximum restraint at such critical moments.
As a civilised and rational community, we should respond calmly and in an appropriate manner despite our anger at the rioters. There should be no reprisals of any kind or across-the-board condemnation against any particular foreign community.
It is also timely for us to remind ourselves of the vital contributions of migrant workers in helping us build our homes and infrastructure. In essence, they helped Singapore's economy to grow all these years, which benefited Singaporeans.
The riot also shows how ill-prepared we are for incidents of such a nature and scale. The first police responders were probably stunned when their patrol cars were overturned in their presence.
There is an urgent need to relook our existing strategy on how to better equip and train our police force to deal with similar incidents.
More police patrols are warranted in areas where migrant workers congregate. It is vital for trouble to be nipped in the bud.
Edmund Lam (Dr)
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