Little India Riot COI: 'You don't know, you don't live here'

Little India Riot COI: 'You don't know, you don't live here'
Mr Martin Pereira, chairman of the Tekka Residents' Committee and long-time resident of Klang Lane, said that while he understands NGOs' call to be more tolerant of the workers, residents also want to feel safe.

YOU don't live here and don't know what we have had to put up with.

That was one Little India resident's response on Tuesday to non-government organisations (NGO) that have been calling for people who live and work in Little India to be more tolerant of foreign workers who congregate in the area on Sundays.

"To put it very bluntly, I understand where the NGOs are coming from but it's very hard for me to sympathise with their cause because they don't stay here," said Mr Martin Pereira, a long-time resident of Klang Lane, just a stone's throw from the epicentre of the Dec 8 riot.

The 44-year-old air traffic controller was testifying at Tuesday's Committee of Inquiry (COI) as chairman of the Tekka Residents' Committee.

He told the inquiry that while he appreciates the efforts of NGOs in integrating foreign workers, they too need to recognise that residents just want to feel safe and not have their neighbourhood intruded by "hordes of men in a drunken stupor" every weekend.

There are "uncomfortable activities" happening right under residents' noses, Mr Pereira added.

"We do have ladies who come and accost them (and) Indian community members tell us that these Indian ladies are not normal ladies," he said, referring to transsexuals soliciting for sexual services.

Besides vice activities, Mr Pereira said he has also received feedback from residents of fortune-telling and illegal moneylending activities at the void decks on Sundays.

"When you don't face the problems on a weekly basis, I don't think you will understand the true feelings of residents who live there," he said.

Other NGOs have told the COI earlier that many foreign workers were unfairly chased away from void decks by auxiliary police officers even though they were "just sitting there... and not really doing anything", said COI member and West Coast Citizens' Consultative Committee chairman Andrew Chua.


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