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Little India COI: Dissatisfaction over jobs, living conditions not a cause of riot

"The Committee of Inquiry's finding is that labour issues were not involved proximately or remotely," it said in its report released on Monday (June 30).

SINGAPORE: The Committee of Inquiry (COI) said dissatisfaction among foreign workers with their jobs and living conditions in Singapore was not a cause of the riot that broke out at Little India on Dec 8, 2013.

The committee said in its report released on Monday (June 30) that it spent much of the inquiry looking into the suggestion - put forward by media commentators overseas and locally - that one of the underlying causes of the riot was the allegedly poor employment and living conditions faced by foreign workers here.

But "nearly every foreign worker who the COI spoke to - including those who were involved in the riot - testified emphatically that they were happy with their jobs and living quarters in Singapore", the committee said. "The COI's finding is that labour issues were not involved proximately or remotely."

The COI added that "attempts to frame the riot as a racial issue are completely unfounded when compared against the facts". Racial or ethnic issues did not arise from any of the evidence gathered, or in any of the committee's discussions with witnesses including those involved in the riot as well as non-complicit foreign workers in Singapore.

It also noted that police brutality was not a factor, as the police did not charge at, beat, or use firearms against the rioters.

Instead, the riot was down to three causes, the COI said: Misunderstandings about the accident and response; the culture and psychology of the crowd; and alcohol and intoxication.

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