In the wake of Sunday’s riots, opposition parties and ordinary citizens are responding with messages of calm, reconciliation and encouragement.
Workers’ Party Media Team chair Gerald Giam called for calm. “We urge members of the public to refrain from speculation and unnecessary accusations while the Police is investigating the matter.” In addition, the Party said, “The COI should study the underlying causes of the riot so that the Government can address them and prevent future recurrences.”
In its press statement, the Singapore People’s Party said, “We look forward to the report of the COI (Commission of Inquiry), since not all details of the riot can be fully ascertained yet. We also hope that the traffic conditions of Race Course Road will be addressed.”
Both parties also expressed get-well wishes for the injured and condolences for the deceased.
Ordinary citizens are working to heal rifts caused by the riot.
Mr Wally Tham and Ms Amizadai Lee on Monday attempted to organise a procession in Little India to hand out flowers for “peace and reconciliation”, “as an act of hope not fear”. They invited the public to join them, but they could not obtain a police permit, causing the event to be called off.
Meanwhile, Ms Adrianna Tan is planning a monthly tour of Little India that is open to the public. The objective: “So that you know Little India is the most amazing place in Singapore. So that you are not afraid of it. So that you will meet the people I love and maybe learn to love them too.”
Other netizens have expressed pride in the way the police handled themselves during the riot. Following the riot, the Facebook page ‘Stop Racism in Singapore’ commended the police and civil defence forces, and called out Dee Kosh for making insensitive remarks on Twitter. Socio-political blog The Online Citizen thanked the police and civil defence on its Facebook page.
Mothership.sg ran pieces that drew attention to acts of courage during the riot. One article, describing five events that occurred during the riot, singled out a specific individual, called ‘the guy in checked shirt’. He was filmed attempting to dissuade two rioters from further damaging the bus, and urged others to move along. Another article showed a group of passers-by signalling a handful of first responders inside an ambulance that it was safe to run for cover.
A day after the riots, sales analyst Kristabel Soo started a Facebook page titled SHUT Racism UP SG to combat racism after she read many ‘”racially-charged” comments online. Garnering over 1300 likes, the page called out and criticised offensive comments on social media in its Facebook post.
Academic Cherian George criticised foreign press coverage of the riots. The Financial Times and Fobes Asia’s blog painted the riot in racial undertones, while Al Jazeera implied race issues by presenting data on Singapore’s ethnic mix. He argued instead that the riots highlighted national and class divides, not racial ones, and that the reason the rioters were primarily South Asian was due to urban geography: South Asian migrant workers simply preferred to congregate in the area on Sundays.
The Singapore Democratic Party took aim at the government’s policies. They claimed that in 2006 they had warned “the social impact of the foreign recruitment policy may yet prove disastrous for Singaporeans”, and again in their 2013 population policy paper that “the population explosion will cause further economic, social and psychological stress for the people, as well as add to national security implications.” The SDP cautioned people from turning against all foreign workers, instead urging them to look at the government policies that “create conditions that give rise to such volatility in the first place.”
It called on the government to “review its population and immigration policy to produce sustainable growth and enhance the well-being of our people, including fostering an environment free of violence and rioting.”