Little India Riot: Misunderstandings about fatal accident sparked violence, says COI

SINGAPORE - The Committee of Inquiry (COI) into last December's riot in Little India found that several misunderstandings about the fatal bus accident that sparked the fracas, and an Indian street culture of "retributive justice", both contributed to the violence.

Little India Riot: Violence sparked by accident, alcohol 'major factor', says COI by Lim Yan Liang

The 75-page document, released by the Home Affairs Ministry on Monday, also found that the riot was not caused by any deep-seated unhappiness amongst foreign workers here, but rather the result of an "emotional outburst" following the death of construction worker Sakthivel Kumaravelu.

Little India Riot: 8 recommendations from the Committee of Inquiry report by Lim Yan Liang

1. Improve police communications and command-and-control capabilities and help officers dealing with public order incidents build a better picture of the ground situation, especially in rapidly changing scenarios;

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This is an excerpt of the recommendations in COI report released today:

1. Improving SPF's Communications, Command and Control Capabilities

Recommendation: To improve SPF's communications, command and control capabilities, to help officers dealing with public order incidents build a better picture of the ground situation, especially in rapidly changing scenarios.

2. Training & Equipping Frontline Officers

Recommendation: To appropriately train and equip frontline officers from the Land Divisions and NPCs to effectively defuse and contain large-scale public order incidents.

3. Increasing Manpower Resources

Recommendation: To increase SPF's manpower resources, including the SOC, so that they can better manage mass congregation areas such as Little India, and be ready to deal with large-scale public order incidents. However, quality rather than quantity should be the major consideration in augmenting the force.

4. Building on Whole-of-Home Team Coordination

Recommendation: That SPF and SCDF continue to build on their ability to respond in a concerted and co-ordinated manner to public order situations, such as that seen on 8 December 2013.

5. Cutting Layers of Approval for Resource Activation

Recommendation: That SPF look into generally cutting layers of approval or time needed to activate essential resources to respond to public order incidents and other emergencies.

6. Enhancing the Safety of Congregation Areas

Recommendation: To install additional lighting, safety and surveillance devices in areas which see large congregations of foreign workers, in addition to making better basic facilities available to those who congregate there.

7. Measures to Reduce Congestion and Crowding

Recommendation: To make more services and amenities available to foreign workers outside of congregation areas, and to work with local community stakeholders on measures to reduce congestion at congregation areas.

8. Alcohol Consumption and Intoxication

Recommendation: To more strictly enforce against public drunkenness and set in place alcohol restrictions in hotspots where large crowds typically indulge in heavy drinking, and therefore where a triggering incident could spark a breakdown of public order.