Riot tarnishes Singapore’s image as place of ethnic harmony

An angry crowd of about 400 – many of them foreign workers, local media reported – swarmed the bus, chasing the driver, a Singaporean, and setting alight to police vehicles. Police said five of its vehicles and one ambulance were damaged.

At least one person was killed and 10 police officers were injured in Singapore after an accidental road death triggered the worst outbreak of civil unrest for years in the island nation, tarnishing its long-held reputation as one of the region’s safest cities.

The incident, on Sunday night, comes as Singapore’s ruling party, the People’s Action party (PAP), has for months been appealing for greater social harmony in the wake of rising unease among Singaporeans over a recent influx of foreign workers, many of them immigrants from South Asia.

It came only hours after the PAP was wrapping up a one-day annual political convention at which its leaders launched a “new resolution outlining its goals and aspirations for Singapore”.

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister – and PAP leader – told delegates: “We must always keep Singapore a home where all races can live in peace and harmony.”

The city-state, which has long prided itself in maintaining harmony between its majority Chinese and minority Malay, Indian and Tamil populations, has a population of 5.3m. More than 1m of that is a community of mostly Indian, Bangladeshi and mainland Chinese foreign workers.


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