Workers stay in, hang out near dorms

Workers stay in, hang out near dorms

It was not a typical Sunday in Little India last Sunday as migrant workers, particularly those from South Asia, stayed away from their usual weekend haunt.

As expected, many chose - or were ordered by their bosses - to remain in their dormitories to avoid trouble in the wake of the Dec 8 riot in Race Course Road.

Others spent their time near their quarters in areas like Jurong and Jalan Kayu, as an alcohol ban and a suspension of private buses heading to the Indian enclave were in force.

Some 50,000 of them, according to the Migrant Workers' Centre, attended events organised by the centre across the island to celebrate International Migrants Day, which is on Wednesday.

Many usually flock to Little India on Sundays to run errands, shop, eat and drink. But only pockets of workers were spotted there on Sunday, a far cry from crowds that could swell to the tens of thousands on a typical Sunday - the only day off for most of them.

Construction worker Saravana Kumar, 31, one of the few in Little India, was there for a game of cricket with his friends. "We didn't know if we could come but my friend said the police are catching only those who drink," said the Indian national.

Alcohol was banned in the area over the weekend as it is believed to have played a part in the Dec 8 unrest. The Land Transport Authority also suspended 25 private bus services that usually ferry workers there on Sundays.

The measures were meant to let the area recover from last week's violence, in which some 400 South Asian workers turned on police and emergency service officers after a foreign worker was killed in an accident involving a private bus.

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