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Little India riot wasn’t just about alcohol: MARUAH

SINGAPORE — Start with the school level to “develop a healthy open approach” as foreign workers are here to stay, the Committee of Inquiry (COI) looking into the Little India riot heard today (March 12).

Sign on alcohol ban this weekend at Little India..Photo: Ernest Chua. 13 Dec 2013.

Sign on alcohol ban this weekend at Little India..Photo: Ernest Chua. 13 Dec 2013.

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SINGAPORE — Start with the school level to “develop a healthy open approach” as foreign workers are here to stay, the Committee of Inquiry (COI) looking into the Little India riot heard today (March 12).

MARUAH President Braema Mathi told the COI that there is a need to have consistency in our value system when interacting with foreign workers.

“We cannot be fluctuating from a moment of dehumanising them and then suddenly we humanise the person,” said Ms Braema, who heads the human rights non-government organisation group.

“It has to be consistently borne from a value system. Do we have that value system? Yes, we do. But more work needs to be done from school ... We (are) talking about guest workers how we do treat them. I think this is going to be the biggest area for us to work on.”

Ms Mathi also said that while there are various people giving their versions about what happened on that night, Ms Braema said that leaders “must signal very clearly” that we are all about community building.

The MARUAH President said that while alcohol was a factor in the Dec 8 riot, she felt that many rushed to blame alcohol for the riot.

“It became alcohol, the new law is all about alcohol,” she said. “So what are we signalling about the guest workers? I think all these are crucial to our value systems going forward.”

Ms Mathi also said that the value system “has to go back to the fundamental of building bonds (and) repairing damage”.

The COI also heard from a member of public and a Little India resident.

Little India resident Fajar Priyanto, who lives at Race Course Road, said that there was an increase in police presence during the few days after the riot occurred.

“I also noticed that in the two weekends following the riot, it was less crowded and less noisy. However, the situation seems to have gotten ... to normal after that.”

The inquiry continues later today.

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