Little India Riot: Police complete investigations into riot

DPM Teo Chee Hean (right) and Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee chairing a press conference to update on the Little India riot investigations.

The police in a press conference on Tuesday said that they had completed investigations into the riot on Dec 8.


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Here is the full statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs:

The Police interviewed almost 4,000 persons, out of which a total of 420 persons were called up for investigations.

At the conclusion of investigations and in consultation with AGC, Police have taken the following actions as of 17 December 2013:

28 persons were active participants in the riot. Police investigations showed that these persons committed acts of violence, damaged property, defied police orders or incited others to do so. These include attacking uniformed personnel and damaging Police and SCDF vehicles. AGC has decided to proceed with charges against them.

This morning, Police rounded up 53 persons identified for participating in the riot and for failing to disperse despite Police's orders to do so. They threatened public order, making their continued presence in Singapore undesirable. They will be repatriated after being issued a stern warning. They will be prohibited from returning to Singapore.

About 200 other persons were present at the scene, but their involvement was assessed to be relatively passive based on the available evidence. They will be issued a formal Police advisory and no further action will be taken against them. They will be allowed to remain and work in Singapore, so long as they continue to abide by our laws.

Barring any new developments, we do not expect many more arrests or repatriations related to this riot.

At a press conference this afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Mr Teo Chee Hean said:

"There is no justification for the lawless behaviour that night which disrupted public order and posed a danger to life and safety. We have taken strong and decisive action to charge, and to repatriate those who took part in the riot to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate actions by anyone which threaten law and order in Singapore."

Comments by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Mr Teo Chee Hean

We had a very serious incident in Little India last Sunday, 8 December, arising from the violent actions of an unruly mob reacting to a fatal traffic accident.

The Government has taken swift and decisive action to tackle this issue comprehensively on three tracks:

First, we put in place measures to make sure that the situation in Little India remains calm. Second, I appointed a Committee of Inquiry on 13 December. The Committee had its first meeting yesterday. Third, Police has substantially completed its investigations, and action, is being taken, based on the findings of the investigations against three groups of persons in accordance with our laws.

Outcomes of Investigation

These three groups will be dealt with - strictly, firmly, and fairly - based on their level of involvement in the riot.

a. Group One consists of 28 persons, where evidence from Police investigations revealed active participation including acts of violence, damage to property, defying Police orders, or inciting others to do so. AGC has decided to proceed with charges against these 28.

b. Group Two consists of 53 persons whom Police has identified to have participated in the riot and who failed to disperse despite Police's orders to do so. They had knowingly joined or continued to participate in the riot, after being ordered to disperse, impeding the riot control and emergency rescue operations. Their actions and conduct had threatened public order, thus making their continued presence in Singapore undesirable. They were all rounded up in a Police operation in the early hours of this morning. These 53 will be repatriated after being issued a stern warning. They will be prohibited from returning to Singapore.

c. Group Three consists of some 200 other persons who were present at the scene, but their involvement was assessed to be relatively passive based on the available evidence. They will be issued a Police advisory. No further action will be taken against them and they will be allowed to remain and work in Singapore, so long as they continue to abide by our laws.

The Commissioner of Police will provide details of the Police investigations later.

Barring any new developments, Police does not expect to make many more arrests or repatriations related to this riot.

Committee of Inquiry (COI)

On 13 December, I appointed a 4-member Committee of Inquiry (COI) chaired by retired Justice Selvam to look into the factors that led to the riot and to make recommendations to reduce the risk of recurrence.

The COI had its first meeting on 16 December. The Committee will also be interviewing some of the foreign workers who will be repatriated, before they leave Singapore.

Measures taken to manage public order in Little India

Several measures were taken last week to restore order and peace in Little India. We imposed a temporary ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in Little India. Private bus shuttle services into the area were also suspended. The police also stepped up their presence on the ground. There were no major incidents over the weekend.

We are reviewing the measures regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol, and have been proactively engaging the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA) and other stakeholders as part of this review.

In the next day or two, Police will finalise and announce the revised measures for Little India after taking into consideration the views of the different stakeholders. These revised measures are likely to remain in place, for the time being, with adjustments at the margins as necessary. Measures for the longer-term will take into consideration feedback from the ongoing public consultations on liquor sales and consumption in public places, and the COI's findings and recommendations. Where necessary, new laws and regulations will be enacted.

Conclusion

Since the incident on Sunday, our Home Team officers have been working hard with colleagues from many government ministries and agencies, including the Ministries of Manpower, Transport, and Foreign Affairs, the Land Transport Authority and the Attorney-General's Chambers, in the three areas that I mentioned earlier.

We have also worked closely with other stakeholders and the community. We have actively engaged foreign workers, business owners and bus operators. The Indian High Commissioner and the Bangladeshi High Commissioner and their respective staffs have also been engaging their respective communities in Singapore.

The vast majority of foreign workers in Singapore are law abiding. They come here to earn a living and support their families in their home countries. In the process they contribute to Singapore by supplementing our need for workers. Those who are law abiding do not need to worry. They should carry on with their work and activities as usual, and continue to abide by the law.

But anyone who commits an offence will face the full weight of the law. There is no justification for the lawless behaviour that night which disrupted public order and posed a danger to life and safety. We have taken strong and decisive action to charge, and to repatriate those who took part in the riot to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate actions by anyone which threaten law and order in Singapore.

The peace and stability that Singapore has enjoyed for many decades has provided a strong foundation for our country to grow and develop, and made Singapore a good place to live, work and raise families. We must continue to work together to preserve this peace and harmony, and not allow the negative actions of a few to affect the lives of many.

We will spare no effort to ensure that Singapore remains safe and peaceful for all who live, work in or visit our country.

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