Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Will Riot Destroy Our Belief Of A Safe Singapore?


The last time a riot happened in Singapore was in 1969. We have not had a riot since for some 44 years. The peace has just been broken by the riot that occurred in last night. It is almost unbelievable. Singaporeans are waking up this morning shocked and shaken. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the riot was a “very grave incident”.

He’s damn right it’s a grave incident. But I’m also shocked at how this “grave incident” translated to only 27 arrests, out of 400 rioters. That’s not even 7% of the rioters. It’s alright that you eventually formally charge fewer people in court, but surely at the early stages, it makes sense to round up more people for questioning and investigation. Look, you can tell us there are some 400 rioters, surely that’s good enough grounds to round up say a hundred of them?

Were the police overwhelmed to be not able to round up the rioters? We’re reading that there were some 300 policemen deployed. Our 300 policemen were only capable of nabbing 27 people?

What sort of signal is the police sending? That they are ineffective? Or they are not treating the incident seriously enough?

One of the major plus points of living in the stressful and fast paced city of Singapore is its security. There are few serious crimes. The streets are relatively safe. We tell our overseas friends about how safe Singapore is.

This riot is really unprecedented in our modern history. Police vehicles are overturned and set on fire. Even ambulances, which are there to save lives, are not spared the attacks from rioters. This is truly blatant disregard of the law and total disrespect of the law enforcers. Most Singaporeans, at least for those not older than 44 years, have never ever seen anything like this. These are scenes that you associate with other countries, never something you could imagine will happen in Singapore.

The government has been, in my opinion, overreacting to the recent spate of cyber-attackers. Our Prime Minister even said that they will spare no effort to bring culprits to justice. Those are just minor incidents that have no real impact.

This riot is totally different. It has, at the least, shaken our beliefs of a Singapore that is safe and peaceful. The authorities will need to deal with this incident in the right manner to restore confidence. It’s probably alright with us that a flood happens once in 50 years (yeah, but it’s happening every year nowadays); but not a riot once in 44 years.

7 thoughts on “Will Riot Destroy Our Belief Of A Safe Singapore?

  1. I think that the numbers might have been overrated. I don’t believe that there were 400 troublemakers. If you watched one of the videos, there was actually a guy who was desperately trying to stop people from damaging the bus. Would be an injustice if he got arrested by mistake. A lot of these jokers were also just milling around taking videos with their handphones. I don’t think that people should be arrested for shooting videos either.

    I don’t think the foreign workers are here in Singapore trying to cause trouble. Most probably understand that they are toast if they get in trouble with the law. The 27 were likely the ones who were too drunk to run when the riot Police arrived at the scene.

  2. First, the China(men) strike.
    Then, the Little India(n) Riot.
    Whatever the final attributed cause might be, these are signs of social order cracking under strain. Personally, I think the Govt needs to act really hard and fast without any other considerations other than “justice & equality” before the Law. We really need to send the message world wide that any non SG that decides to come here should leave their way of public expression at home. This is more than just an “incident”.

    Will there be a Malay(sian) protest or an Expatraites’ demostration soon down the road if we don’t do this right ?

    I really think the Authorities should had been alot more decisive & assertive, keeping in mind, 2 hours and the situation was still on-going.

    What happend to the guts leading to SG taking down the terrorist that highjacked our plane in the 80s ? Or the decision to continue with the parade the year it rained on our national day?

    Always remember; the world is watching us. . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

View Comment Policy