SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Committee of Inquiry investigating the Little India riot must first ascertain its cause before broader issues of whether social and population policies need to be re-thought can be addressed.
One priority now is to ensure a similar incident does not happen again, he said on Dec 24.
"I think we deal with... what led to the riot and then the broader issues we can argue and debate," he said, adding that these issues, which could extend to the "entire" social and population policy, must be dealt with separately.
"I do not accept that we must straight away ask whether fundamental approaches or the whole way our society is organised needs to be re-thought immediately."
For now, one lesson is that incidents like the Dec 8 riot can break out in a stable society, but it is important to have a well-trained Home Team that can deal with them in a measured and decisive way.
Mr Lee was speaking to reporters after spending over an hour with the 38 officers who were the first responders in the riot, which involved about 300 people of mostly South Asian origin.
Over breakfast at Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre, the officers recalled how they were assailed with projectiles amid rescue work and crowd control.
"It's very useful to me when I'm reading the reports and deciding what to do next, to have that almost first-hand feel of what happened that night," Mr Lee said.
All of the officers, who are from the Police Special Operations Command, Traffic Police, Tanglin and Central police divisions, police dog unit, as well as the Singapore Civil Defence Force, have undergone the necessary drills and training to perform their duties, Mr Lee noted.
He added: "I have a lot of respect and I was impressed with the way they explained what they were going to do, and how they planned and acted.
It was not on the spur of a moment, but their years of training, as well as their collectedness, their calm and their courage at the key moment."
He thanked the officers for a good job in a "most serious and most unfortunate incident".
Despite online criticism of their actions during the riot, he advised them to remain focused.
He also revealed that the Home Team has been experimenting with wearable cameras and other technologies to boost their operational effectiveness.