SINGAPORE - Some 200 foreign workers who were present in the area during the Little India riot received police advisories at the Police Cantonment Complex yesterday.
Apart from the written notice, the workers, who came from more than 150 companies mainly in the marine trade and construction sectors, were also verbally briefed on Singapore laws and the country's zero-tolerance policy on rioting.
The foreign workers, who were accompanied by their supervisors, started arriving at the police complex at 10am. They were then led into the briefing in batches of more than 50 people.
The briefing lasted about 10 minutes. Mr Goh Chuan Heng, a project coordinator at Etron Resources, accompanied his worker to the session.
He said: "It was conducted by plain-clothes officers, and they spoke in English, and also in the workers' native languages."
Asked if he was aware of his worker's presence in the area during the riot, he replied: "My worker was just buying groceries at the Haniffa department store in Dunlop Street."
Construction worker Minor Karunakaran, who was there to receive the advisory, said he was not afraid.
"I did not do anything, so I'm not scared. I was just in Dunlop Street (on the day of the riot)," said the 22-year-old Indian national who is employed by Woh Hup.
While most supervisors told The Straits Times that they had advised their workers to avoid the Little India area for the time being, 70-year-old Heng Siak Hoe, who operates a spray-painting company, said it was impractical.
"Their dormitory is right there, in Jalan Besar. How can they avoid being in the area?" he said.
One of his workers was called up to receive the advisory.
Mr Heng said this worker had been with him for more than four years, and was a disciplined man who neither smoked nor drank.
The police issued a statement last night saying that its investigations confirmed that the 200 or so foreign workers who received the advisories were present in the area during the riot.
"We are satisfied that their involvement had been passive and incidental," said the police.
No further action will be taken against the workers, they added.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore said that in the past three years, an average of 13,000 foreigners have been repatriated annually from Singapore under the provisions of the Immigration Act.
These include illegal immigrants, overstayers and those who have had their work privileges cancelled
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