Singapore’s Little India Riot: Was Alcohol to Blame?

Also: Deadly train wreck in Jakarta, poverty rate declines in the Philippines.

J.T. Quigley
Singapore’s Little India Riot: Was Alcohol to Blame?
Credit: Twitter @GentseTrotter

Some Tuesday ASEAN links:

Yesterday, the death of a 33-year-old Indian national who was struck by a bus in Singapore sparked a rare riot in the tightly controlled city-state. Approximately 400 foreign workers took to the streets of the Little India district, setting fire to police vehicles and an ambulance.

Singapore’s police commissioner, Ng Joo Hee, told the BBC that it was the country’s first riot in more than 30 years. 27 people were arrested and 18 were injured.

The Little India district is popular among South Asian expatriates who often eat and drink there on Sundays. But did alcohol contribute to the destructive behavior?

Apparently Singapore’s Transport Minister, Lui Tuck Yew, believes that it did.

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Lui announced that he would limit liquor licenses in Little India while also “demarcating areas where drinking is allowed and setting the time for which it is allowed,” according to Channel NewsAsia, though admitting that it was “too early to say” what caused the freak unrest.

Over in Indonesia, a commuter train crash has left at least two people dead. One of those killed has been identified as the train’s engineer, reported The Inquirer.

The crash took place in the capital city of Jakarta when a tanker truck carrying liquid gas attempted to beat the train through an intersection. The truck exploded, knocking several of the train’s passenger cars on their side.

Some good news for the typhoon-ravaged Philippines: According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the number of poor families in the Philippines relative to the total number of families in the country has dropped from 20.5 percent to 19.7 percent between 2009 and 2012.

The Philippine government has attributed the drop to the “conditional cash transfer” (CCT) welfare program and increased wages for public servants. The CCT program grants monthly cash subsidies to poor families as long as children attend school and receive regular health checkups.

“From nearly 300,000 families in 2009, the number of families covered by the CCT program rose to 3 million in 2012,” claimed the NSCB.

Even better news arrived for the families of 13 Malaysian army personnel who disappeared after being caught in a storm on Saturday night. The group, which had been conducting a night-time rowing exercise, was found alive by villagers near Pantai Puteri.

“Despite looking exhausted, weak and pale, they were reported to be in good condition and unhurt,” said The Star. “They were rushed to the Terendak army camp hospital in Sungai Udang for medical examination.”