Little India Riot COI: Some ask for money

Little India Riot COI: Some ask for money
A resident complained at the COI that there is a lack of policemen to keep foreign workers out of residential areas.

His 25-year-old daughter was regularly wolf-whistled at by groups of foreign workers while walking home, a resident of Little India told the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the riot on Wednesday.

"She got scared. There were also some who would ask her for money when she exited the MRT station," said Mr Lim Choon Kiang, 54, in his statement.

When the committee asked him what he has done about it, Mr Lim said in Mandarin that he would ask his daughter to wait at the station so that he could escort her home.

That happened "every Sunday and on certain weekdays when it's late", said Mr Lim, who has been living at his Buffalo Road flat for the past 32 years.

He was one of five residents who took the stand on Wednesday to give their account of the Dec 8 riot as well as their observations and concerns regarding the Little India crowd on Sundays, a rest day for many Indian and Bangladeshi foreign workers.

Some of their sentiments echoed that of Tekka Residents' Committee chairman Martin Pereira, who gave his testimony on Tuesday.

While not all five witnesses said they were inconvenienced by foreign workers, they voiced several problems they faced at Little India before the riot relating to alcohol, the size of the crowd and the presence of policemen and auxiliary police officers (APOs) patrolling the area.

ALCOHOL

Most of the complaints were alcohol-related, with several of the witnesses supporting the limits on alcohol sale.

Said Mr Lim: "(Foreign workers) would drink alcohol in the area and become intoxicated and pass out. "Some of them would also vomit after being intoxicated."

Several witnesses in previous hearings have also testified that the consumption of alcohol in Little India has increased over the years. But not all agreed that alcohol causes problems.

Another Buffalo Road resident, Ms Tan Huilinn, said she had no qualms about foreign workers drinking near her flat and has not encountered any problems with them.

Ms Tan, who has lived there for seven years, said: "When I was pregnant and I was doing my evening walks after dinner, I have seen them drinking and just having like a beer or two with their dinners, and they are really just relaxing there. "It's not all of them who, you know, have these irresponsible drinking habits."

Instead of a complete alcohol ban, she suggested reducing the number of alcohol licenses issued to shops there.

Said Ms Tan: "Over the past couple of years, we have seen a proliferation of alcohol licences. Even vegetable shops were selling alcohol, which is kind of strange."



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