SINGAPORE - A group of about 100 foreign workers had gathered at the common area at their Kaki Bukit dormitory to watch a cricket match and unwind after a hard day's work.
But a fight broke out between two groups of South Asians on Tuesday night, beside the canteen at Homestay Residences at Kaki Bukit Avenue 3.
The police stepped in soon after and later arrested 35 men. Fourteen of them were charged on Friday .
The men had been watching a cricket match between West Indies and Bangladesh in the ICC World Twenty20 at around 11pm that when things turned ugly.
An Indian worker, believed to have been drinking, apparently threw his empty bottle at a Bangladeshi worker.
Mr Masum, who claimed to have witnessed the argument between the two men lead to a brawl, told The New Paper: "The Bangladeshi shouted at the Indian guy who threw the bottle.
"He looked angry but he saw that there were more Bangladeshis than Indians there, so he walked away.
"Then he came back with about three or four friends and shouted: 'Hey, who was the one who shouted at me?'
"The Bangladeshi stood up and shouted back: 'Why do you have to throw your bottle?'
"The Indian then replied: 'When I drink, I can do whatever I want.'"
A fight then broke out and escalated to involve members of both groups.
Another witness, Mr Punniamoorthy Raja, who has been working in Singapore for four years, said that this was the first time he had seen a fight occur at the dormitory.
"The Indian man was quite big-sized. The fight only lasted about one minute. I think they were scared that the police were coming," he said.
It was not clear how many workers were involved in the brawl.
When asked if he was concerned that this incident might cause locals to view the foreign worker community in a negative light, Mr Vetha Govindaraj, who has been working in Singapore for 14 years, said: "This matter is between those involved.
"It is only some who make trouble and break the rules. You cannot judge everybody on what a few people do."
A worker who gave his name as Mr Siva, 28, said that watching cricket is a popular pastime among Indian and Bangladeshi nationals at the dormitory.
"They installed the TV about one year ago," he said. "The group is sometimes very big, more than 100 people. They would crowd around the small LCD TV and even block the road (inside the compound)."
Mr Velu, 26, a friend of Mr Siva, said that the atmosphere could get quite rowdy at times, as workers would drink alcohol and cheer loudly as they watched the cricket matches.
When asked if that particular match had been a significant one, Mr Punniamoorthy shook his head, saying that it was nothing special. He added: "Normally, Indians and Bangladeshis are friends, everybody here are friends. Nobody fights."
14 to be charged with rioting
Fourteen suspects, who were part of a group of 35 South Asian men arrested after the brawl on Tuesday night at the Kaki Bukit dormitory, will today be charged with rioting, said the police.
They said they responded to a call for assistance at 11.22pm that night.
Officers from Bedok Police Division, the Special Operations Command and the Police Dog Unit were sent to contain the incident and 13 suspects were arrested. Another 22 men were arrested over the past two days.
For rioting, the 14 suspects face up to seven years' jail. Another three suspects will be prosecuted for affray and face a jail term of up to one year, a fine of up to $5,000 or both, said police.
The case against the remaining suspects is still ongoing.
The Commander of Bedok Police Division, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alvin Moh, said: "Police will not condone such lawless and violent behaviour in public affecting the sense of security of the community.
"We will hunt down the perpetrators of such crimes and ensure that they face the full brunt of the law."
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