'Riots are normal, S'pore is not'

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans may have thought the Little India riot was unusual, but small incidents sparking large riots are common around the world.

It is, in fact, Singapore that is unusual, as it is one of the few places in the world whose society remains "civil and civilised", said futurist and international-relations scholar Parag Khanna yesterday.

In an interview with MyPaper on Singapore's population growth and governance, Dr Khanna pointed out that spontaneous incidents like Sunday's riot have happened not just in India, but also in Athens, Los Angeles and the Bronx. "Humans just act this way," he said.

He added: "I'm not assuming this is true, but you can imagine the thought process of 400 people, going: 'Look what just happened, this is bloody murder, let's go flip some cars.' ...It happens everywhere else every day."

Not here, however, as "Singaporeans are, either by nature or by conditioning, civil".

While it was a spontaneous act, there may have been "conditions in place" for it to happen, he said, such as perceived injustices committed by employers, inadequate pay, and a lack of a sense of belonging.

"They don't belong to Singapore, they belong to companies that use them... they don't feel like this is their home, because they live in corporate dormitories," he said.

The incident is "a reminder of something we knew all along", which is that, as a society, Singapore needs to do "a better job...in finding ways to appreciate them, provide better standards", and engage them in more dialogue.


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