SINGAPORE - National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has responded to a mock riot simulation exercise which received criticism from Singapore netizens for featuring South Asian workers.
Photos of the simulation were posted online early this week on Mr Khaw's Facebook page, showing a joint exercise organised by the police, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the dorms operators and grassroots organisations.
AFP reported that the drill took place in a migrant workers' dormitory on October 26 and the "photos showed workers standing next to flames and confronting police officers decked in riot gear. One image showed workers kneeling on the ground surrounded by police officers."
According to the Mr Khaw's Facebook post, it was to "test [their] capability" and "it was a useful way to network up the various agencies, and spread preventive messages".
However, the exercise has drawn flak from many locals for being "insensitive" and having "racial undertones".
Many felt it was unnecessary to use real foreign workers and also insensitive to only use one ethnicity in the mock exercise.
Mr Khaw responded in a Facebook comment: "...Grassroots, SPF, SCDF and foreign workers ambassadors who worked hand in hand on the exercise.
"They found it to be a meaningful collaboration which bonded the residents and foreign workers. In fact, a buffet lunch was also organised for all who participated to celebrate the successful conclusion of the exercise.
"This is one of the many engagement and education sessions conducted by our grassroots and government agencies with foreign workers, regardless of nationality or race.
"Past efforts cover areas such as first aid, dengue prevention and local culture.
"Our intent is to promote mutual understanding with the local community."
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