Many in the crowd just onlookers: Witnesses

SINGAPORE - There was a mob of about 200 but it was some 10 rioters who were trying to overturn a police patrol car parked in Race Course Road, where a bus had run over and killed a foreign worker earlier that night, heard the Committee of Inquiry into the Dec 8 riot.

Construction worker Kannadasan Murugan was in Little India with friends that night when he heard about the accident and the rowdy crowd gathering around it.

He later witnessed some of them trying to overturn the police car. "I saw about 10 people trying to lift the vehicle," he said. "But they couldn't lift it, so they set it back down."

Both he and another eyewitness, excavator operator Seenuvasan Selvaraja, told the committee they saw about 200 people crowding around the accident scene, but that there were about 30 men actively throwing projectiles or overturning vehicles.

The two workers, who took the witness stand one after the other, later told committee chairman G. Pannir Selvam that many at the scene that night were also just onlookers taking pictures and recording videos of the events that were unfolding before them.

Both men condemned the actions of the unruly mob, and said they had no issues with working or living conditions here.

"This incident happened in a good country like Singapore, and now all of us, the Indians, will be looked at like we were all involved when it was just the act of a group of persons," said Mr Seenuvasan. He went on to say he felt the riot happened because the crowd was drunk and "not thinking and behaving properly".

Two more foreign workers are expected to give evidence when the inquiry resumes on Monday.

yanliang@sph.com.sg


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