Law-abiding workers 'need not worry'

Law-abiding workers 'need not worry'
India’s High Commissioner to Singapore, Vijay Thakur Singh (front, right), speaking to workers during a visit to Westlite Mandai Dormitory in the wake of the Little India riot on 8 December 2013.

Foreign workers who abide by Singapore's laws need not worry that their jobs will be at stake.

But those who breach any rules will be dealt with firmly.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam told about 40 Indian national workers at a dialogue last night that Sunday's melee, which saw about 400 rioters turning on police and paramedics, had affected Singapore deeply.

But he wanted to quell any fears, raised by workers, that their work permits might not be renewed.

"If you were not involved in the incident, you don't have to be afraid. What objectives you had in mind when you came to Singapore, they will be fulfilled. I'll give you that assurance. Don't be afraid," he said during his visit to Kranji Lodge 1, a dormitory for foreign workers.

Mr Shanmugam told reporters before the 30-minute dialogue that the Government has "zero tolerance" for those who flout rules.

"We have to be extremely strict and enforce (this). That is the only way that everyone will understand and we can make sure that the place is safe and secure."

He was joined on the visit by Member of Parliament Vikram Nair, Nominated MP R. Dhinakaran, and unionists M. Ramasamy and G. Muthukumar.

Workers who spoke up said they were ashamed of last Sunday's show of violence and hoped that Singaporeans would not cast them in the same negative light as the rioters.

Indian national Ramadas Kuberan, 40, said the rioters could have turned aggressive after drinking but added that workers are on the whole happy to be in Singapore.

Construction and marine bosses told The Straits Times they do not foresee a repeat of Sunday's events as their workers are familiar with Singapore's laws and the consequences of breaking them.

But as a precaution, they have told their men to avoid Little India this weekend.

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