Updated: 12/18/2013 18:25

Repatriation an administrative decision made by Ministry, agencies: K Shanmugam

Repatriation an administrative decision made by Ministry, agencies: K Shanmugam

The 53 foreign workers - 52 Indian nationals and one Bangladeshi - involved in the Little India riot were asked to leave Singapore because they acted in a manner that threatened Singapore's safety and security. 

This was explained by Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam when he paid a visit to a foreign workers dormitory. 

Under the Immigration Act, foreigners who act contrary to Singapore's interest, or in a manner that is prejudicial to Singapore's security or safety, can be asked to leave the country. 

And this it why the 53 foreign workers rounded up on Tuesday morning for their involvement in the Little India Riot, will be repatriated. 

Mr Shanmugam was speaking to reporters after a visit to Terusan Lodge in Jurong, his third visit to foreign workers dormitories since the riot. 

He says the 53 were found to have played a passive role in the riot - in that they did not disperse when told to do so. 

He adds that repatriation happens on a regular basis. 

"If every case has got to go to court and a judge makes a decision, then repatriation decisions becomes judicial rather than administrative. Then every foreigner is entitled to stay here at taxpayers' expense, housed here at taxpayers' expense, it could stretch on a year or more."

Hence the administrative decision to repatriate the workers - fell to the Ministry and relevant agencies. 

Mr Shanmugam spoke to about 450 foreign workers in a Tamil dialogue session at the dormitory.

During the discussion, foreign workers shared their concerns and suggestions with Mr Shanmugam. 

Their concerns ranged from worries that Indian nationals may no longer be allowed to work in Singapore, and the drinking problem within the community. 

Most of them raised their hands when Minister asked if they would like to see an all-out ban on alcohol sales as suggested by another foreign worker. 

Other suggestions from the workers include the setting up of remittance services in their dormitories and for cable television to made available in their quarters. 

He was accompanied by Nominated MP R Dhinakaran and unionist M Ramasamy, who is the president of the Sembawang Shipyard Employees' Union. 

-By Fann Sim

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