Updated: 12/12/2013 18:13

Migrant workers are deeply ashamed of Sunday's violence, says Shanmugam

Migrant workers are deeply ashamed of Sunday's violence, says Shanmugam

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who had a dialogue with foreign workers at a dormitory in Kranji on Wednesday evening, says the workers regret that a riot was sparked in Little India on Sunday. 

About 40 Tamil-speaking foreign workers from Kranji Lodge 1, which is home to 10,000 migrant workers of various nationalities, took part in the dialogue that lasted for about half an hour. 

Mr Shanmugam says the workers themselves believe that alcohol was a contributing factor to the violence. 

"Their view is that this was caused primarily due to maybe the fact that many of the boys were young, and they had a rush of blood, and maybe alcohol."

But he says it's best to investigate the facts fully before any inference is drawn between alcoholism and Sunday's riot. 

He wanted to hear their concerns and to personally address their anxieties in the aftermath of Sunday's riot. 

"They are concerned that the actions of a small minority will impact on all of them, not directly, but you know their contracts may not be renewed. And they have obligations, they want to make some money, so I assured them, as long as they don't break the law, if they were not involved, and in future they don't break the law, there is no reason for us to deport them. They don't need to worry."

Mr Shanmugam says the workers emphasised that they had no grievances against their employers. 

But he adds that this is just the view of this group of workers.

Nonetheless, he believes that there are employers who behave badly, and those mis-treat their workers must be taken to task. 

The workers also say that they feel Singapore gives them a chance to upgrade themselves. 

"They said look, Singapore is a good place, they want to come here. They have choices. They can go to other places. They want to come to Singapore. They prefer, they choose Singapore; also in Singapore they can upgrade themselves. They can go for skills training. These are not opportunities they can get elsewhere."

-By John Yip and Lianne Chia

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