"They have interviewed about 4,000 over, investigated about 400, and then settled on the 53. So I don't think you can say they chose them on an irrational basis. They had a reason for selecting 53," he said.
Observing that repatriation takes place regularly, he said that if every such case had to go to court and the repatriation decision became judicial rather than administrative, then "every foreigner is entitled to stay here at taxpayers' expense, housed here at taxpayers' expense".
"What we have here works quite well. Foreign workers that come here know they have to behave, and if they don't, they could be sent back. That keeps most of them on the straight and narrow."
Over at Penjuru, Mr Iswaran was asked by reporters about the warnings or advisories issued to 200 workers who were at the scene of the riot. He said it was to put them on notice to abide by Singapore's laws and be on good behaviour if they want to continue working here.
He also had assurances for the 300 workers who attended the dialogue at Penjuru, saying the actions taken against the workers involved in the riot were "fully in accordance with our law, strict, firm and fair".
"They are targeted at those who have committed offences. Those who have not, in any way, flouted our law, may not fear," he said.
One worker at Penjuru asked for the private bus services to Little India to be reinstated. Mr Iswaran said he would look into it.
Last Tuesday night's visit was Mr Shanmugam's third to a dormitory since the Dec 8 riot in Little India. Last Wednesday, he visited Kranji Lodge 1 to reassure workers.
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