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Various issues raised by the Little India riot COI

Channel NewsAsia recaps some highlights from the COI hearing into the Little India riot.

SINGAPORE: After the Little India riot in 2013, a Committee of Inquiry was formed on February 19, 2014.

The four-man committee was chaired by former Supreme Court Judge G Pannir Selvam.

The others were former Police Commissioner Tee Tua Ba, former NTUC President John De Payva and Chairman of the West Coast Citizens' Consultative Committee Andrew Chua.

To prepare for the proceedings, investigators interviewed close to 300 witnesses.

The committee hearing started with dramatic CCTV footage of the deceased Sakthivel Kumaravelu's last moments.

It showed him intoxicated and leaving the bus, he then walks along Tekka Lane before running after the bus.

As the bus is about to turn onto Race Course Road, Mr Kumaravelu's right hand comes into contact with the bus. He loses balance, falls directly into the path of the bus, and is run over.

A key focus during the hearing was how police officers handled the situation that night.

One heated exchange during the inquiry involved Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lu Yeow Lim -- he was grilled over various issues, such as why he waited for backup for about half an hour before engaging the rioters.

Mr Tee said DAC Lu's decision was "unacceptable" as the delay could have embolden the rioters. However, DAC Lu stood by his decision, saying it would have been unsafe to engage the rioters as his officers were badly outnumbered.

Committee chairman G Pannir Selvam then said that there were in fact 10 police cars nearby, and no contact was made with them.

When Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee took the stand, he admitted it had taken too long before the Special Operations Command troops were called in to control the riot.

He also made an impassioned plea to recruit 1,000 more officers to beef up the police force's anti-riot capability.

The adequacy of riot gear and equipment was also discussed, with Mr Tee suggesting that first responders receive relevant training and be well-equipped to deal with such situations.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner David Scott Arul from the Special Operations Command even brought in an officer in riot gear to show the committee an officer's full attire.

Other issues raised throughout the hearing -- whether alcohol consumption was a contributory factor for the riot, and foreign worker management.

As part of investigations, the committee visited other areas where foreign workers congregated -- such as Geylang and Golden Mile Complex.

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