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Singapore deports foreign workers after riots

City state to send 53 South Asian workers home for their role in clashes sparked by the death of an Indian migrant.

Last updated: 17 Dec 2013 14:38
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The riots have led to intense discussion about Singapore's foreign workers [Reuters]

Singapore has announced it is deporting 53 people and pursuing criminal charges against 28 for involvement in its worst rioting in four decades.

The unrest took place earlier this month in the district known as Little India and shocked the city-state, which prides itself on cleanliness and order.

Those who are law-abiding do not need to worry. They should carry on with their work and activities as usual.

Teo Chee Hean, deputy prime minister

A crowd of 400 people torched vehicles and clashed with police after an Indian worker died in a traffic accident.

Of the 53 being deported 52 are Indian and one is Bangladeshi.

The 28 to be charged with rioting - who are all Indian - face seven years imprisonment and caning. The police, who led a 10-day investigation into the incident, have dropped charges against another seven.

About 200 others who were at the scene of the riot but whose involvement was deemed to be "relatively passive" will be handed "formal advisories" by the police. 

Those issued with the advisories will be allowed to remain in Singapore.

Prime Minister Lee called the riot an “isolated incident”. "We must not allow this bad incident to tarnish our views of the foreign worker community here," he said in a statement issued after the disturbances.

Alcohol ban

The riots led to intense debate over foreign labour, which comprises one-fifth of the 5.4 million population.

Despite the tension over foreign workers on the island the government has said it will not change policy.

Teo Chee Hean, the deputy prime minister, said on Tuesday that foreign workers came to Singapore to earn a living and to support their families back home. 

"In the process they contribute to Singapore by supplementing our need for workers," said Teo, who is also home affairs minister.

"Those who are law-abiding do not need to worry. They should carry on with their work and activities as usual."

The government has taken steps to contain the situation since the riots.

It has banned the sale of alcohol in Little India, where thousands of South Asian workers congregate to socialise and shop, and suspended shuttle bus services that bring in foreign workers from across the island.

 

 

 

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Source:
AFP
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